ICT solutions for patients, medical services and payment institutions
eHealth is one of the six market areas in the Lead Market Initiative. The sector includes tools for health authorities and professionals and personalised health systems for patients and citizens.
eHealth can help to deliver better care for less money within citizen-centred health delivery systems. It can thus alleviate the cost pressure on the public budgets for health.
The eHealth sector
In terms of market size, the European eHealth industry has leading positions in emerging fields such as personalised health systems, medical equipment and in several sectors of integrated eHealth solutions. The focus is on two main areas, telemedicine/homecare and clinical information systems in the primary healthcare sector. The e-Health sector has a number of large European-based companies of specialised e-health solutions that are world leaders in their fields, as well as an estimated 5,000 European small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that operate in the various sub-sectors of e-health. The health sector in the European Union (EU) employs almost 10% of the total workforce and corresponds to almost 9% of gross domestic product (GDP). Health spending is rising faster than GDP and it is estimated to reach 16% of GDP by 2020 in OECD countries.
Taking into consideration that, on one hand, over the last 25 years, healthcare has fallen progressively behind other service sectors in terms of relative levels of ICT investment and, on the other, ICT investment has been a main driver of productivity gain in other sectors, the societal interest of this lead market area becomes obvious, all the more so, as the ageing population will increase the strain on the health systems. European investment levels in healthcare ICT is currently at 2% of total revenues, with predictions of becoming 5% by 2010.The emerging technological solutions tend to fragment the market due to incompatibilities between system components. There is also a lack of legal certainty which hampers business investments and take-up of new products and services by the users. Additionally, the differentiated demand of public authorities may lead to highly fragmented public procurement of e-health services.
The action plan represents a list of measures to take to further stimulate a market for innovative eHealth solutions in Europe. Standardising various information exchange formats, for instance, and certifying of interoperable systems should effectively overcome the interoperability barriers. Other measures within the framework of the LMI are clarification and guidance for applying the legal framework, networking of public procurers, as well as information of users, doctors, health managers and public authorities on eHealth benefits. Opportunities in public procurement of eHealth services could reduce demand fragmentation. European citizens would greatly benefit from cost reductions, coupled with better efficiency of the healthcare systems through the wider development of eHealth.
- Mid-term progress report of eHealth (published in September 2009) [405 KB]
- Action Plan for eHealth [24 KB]
- eHealth taskforce report 2007 [721 KB] (composed in preparation for the Lead Market Initiative)
EU Recommendation for interoperability
The recommendation on eHealth interoperability was adopted 2 July 2008. The aim is to provide Member States and their relevant bodies with the basic principles on how to address interoperability in electronic health record systems, especially in the cross-border setting. This deployment will support the free movement of people (both patients and professionals) and services and will favour the safety of travelling individuals across Europe.
The Recommendation invites Member States to engage in active cooperation with other Member States and relevant stakeholders to ensure the adoption and implementation of standards that make the cross-border interoperability of electronic health record systems feasible.
The impact of the Recommendation will be measured after one year from its adoption, in line with point 18 of the Recommendation according to which "Member States are invited to report, on a yearly basis, to the Commission on the measures they have taken in relation to the implementation of cross-border interoperability of electronic health record systems."
- The recommendation on eHealth interoperability (adopted on July 2, 2008)
Exchange of best practices
The i2010 sub-group meetings and eHealth ministerial conferences provide excellent fora for the exchange of good practices and informed discussion between national representatives. The i2010 subgroup is also kept regularly informed about the progress on the implementation of the eHealth Action plan and the LMI. LMI was featured throughout the 'Economy' stream of the recent eHealth 2009 conference. The EC has also funded the 'Good eHealth' study, a database of case studies of successful eHealth implementation.
A new initiative aimed at setting up a High Level group, consisting of national representatives at State Secretary level, was launched in 2008. The objective of the group is to enhance European Governance in eHealth and facilitate deployment and its first informal meeting was held during the ministerial eHealth conference in Prague under the Czech Presidency of the EU.
- www.epractice.eu - Access to case studies of successful eHealth implementation.
- The i2010 sub-group - Website of the i2010 sub-group
- eHealth 2009 conference
- The 'Good eHealth' project
Associate procurers in consultation process for CIP and FP7 calls for proposals
The objectives of these actions have been reached through the www.epractice.eu portal. The eHealth procurers Forum at ePractice.eu is an initiative sponsored by the EC to help practitioners in eHealth procurement in Europe meet and share their experiences and knowledge, ask for advice and provide support. An EC Workshop on Procuring for health benefits was organised at the World of health IT conference in Copenhagen on 6 November 2008. The goal of the workshop was to find out the state of the art and lessons learned in eHealth procurement, in particular in deploying telemedicine services. The action is ongoing.The LMI was the foundation on which this action was built, and it would not have taken place otherwise.
EU Patient Smart Open Services pilot funded
Four eHealth-related projects have been launched under the first call of the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme's ICT Policy Support Programme (CIP ICT PSP) in 2008. epSOS (Smart Open Services for European Patients), whose objective is to deploy, in real life settings, patient summaries and ePrescription across national borders of 12 Member States, is making particularly good progress. Calliope, a thematic network, whose main objective is to promote interoperability, will provide a roadmap for actions based on an agreement of 16 Member States with the possibility to include additional Member States and more stakeholder representatives. CIP ICT PSP call 3 for patient-centered health service will provide further support to deployment of telemedicine services by supporting a large-scale project for the creation of evidence on a large scale of the effectiveness of these types of services.