Efficient communication allows professionals to share information and best practices maximising the benefit for patients and final users. To improve and develop the services, healthcare providers and policy makers need to widen effective cooperation strategies.

The eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020, published by the European Commission, aims at making use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to improve healthcare in Europe. The Action Plan focuses on developing common standards to enhance interoperable healthcare systems among member states. The stakeholders will play an active role in the implementation of eHealth solutions.

Benefits of interoperable eHealth solutions

  • For healthcare professionals: improved quality and safety of care through strengthened coordination; up- to-date patient status information and evidence-based clinical guidelines to support decision-making procedures;
  • For patients: enhanced safety of treatments received, delivery of care at the point of need, integrated care including quality and safe treatment abroad, e.g. in an emergency situation in another EU Member State;
  • For users: interoperable systems result in significantly lower implementation and integration costs. For example, a MRI image from a hospital can be exchanged and used by various professionals and structures without the need to repeat tests;
  • For healthcare businesses: the use of a common eHealth EU Interoperability Framework (EIF) can help expand a digital single market for healthcare, opening up competition and reducing costs for developers. In this sense, cooperation is vital: a thorough and wide collaboration allows sharing costs and reduces future reinvestments to update systems.

What are we doing?

The European Commission has already put in place several activities to improve EU interoperability & standardisation in healthcare. During the period 2013-2020, the Commission will use the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding programmes to push for a large-scale diffusion of innovative tools, the replicability of good practices and services for health, ageing and wellbeing, with a particular attention on improving equal access to services.