Guest blog by Stefan Buttigieg
The European Commission’s work on digital health goes back to 2004 when the first eHealth Action Plan was brought into play and accepted by EU Member States. Back then, Malta, my home country, had just started its journey within the European Union; So much has evolved since then in our healthcare system – both in Malta and in Europe - and the future looks bright!
Europe has embarked on a journey to create a seamless digital health revolution which brings together eHealth, mHealth and even wearable health. As a citizen of the European Union, I’m looking forward to the full implementation of the European Interoperability Framework. This will allow me to travel freely within the European Region with the full confidence that my patient record in Malta, could easily be accessed by physicians in Belgium in case of a medical emergency. Moreover, I will be able to get a routine prescription dispensed in Poland, a country I visit regularly. This is the Digital Health experience I dream about. An experience which allows me to live freely, without borders.
Speaking about borders, Article 14 of Directive 2011/24 comes to mind. This important piece of legislation started off the voluntary network of national authorities responsible for eHealth which is already working hard to 'enhance interoperability between electronic health systems and continuity of care and to ensure access to safe and quality healthcare'.
Europe is also stretching its hand out towards the American continent through EU*US eHealth Work, a Horizon 2020 project, with the main aim of measuring, informing, educating and creating advances.
Digital health has brought together the European Commission with other partners such as the World Health Organisation and HIMSS Europe. Together they have worked to organise the eHealth Week 2017 in Malta this coming May, the biggest event on digital health in Europe. It intends to propel the Healthcare IT Movement in Europe forward into working together and finding common solutions for the benefit of the patient.
One day before the event on 9 May, the Member States will convene to take pivotal decisions on the future of eHealth in Europe or as I prefer calling it, digital health.
This meeting of the eHealth Network is a perfect example of the following: Europe is all about Voices, Vision and Action! Since 2004, we had the wonderful opportunity to see the implementation of two eHealth Action Plans spanning from 2004 to 2011 and 2012 to 2020 respectively.
Looking back at the goals of the European Commission for eHealth, I see a three-fold vision which I can embrace as a European Citizen and as a Public Health Professional, that is, to improve citizens’ health, increase healthcare quality and access, and make eHealth tools more effective, user-friendly and widely accepted.
Now that is something worth waking up for everyday!
Explore how personal health data is created, stored, shared and used during eHealth Week in Malta, 10 - 12 May 2017