The closing event of the CALLIOPE Thematic Network, a European platform for eHealth interoperability, took place at the European Parliament and was hosted by Mr Milan Cabrnoch, MEP. The purpose of the event was to feature the main outcomes of the 30-month-long project, the proposal for a European eHealth Interoperability Roadmap towards Sustainable Health as well as to provide an overview of the forthcoming Member State driven Initiative on eHealth Governance.

Scope and Purpose

Approximately 50 participants, including key actors from CALLIOPE, contributors and representatives from stakeholder organizations from different countries and experts from the European Commission DG INFSO and DG SANCO attended the event.

CALLIOPE – lessons learned and ways forward

Opening the meeting, Mr Cabrnoch reviewed some aspects of eHealth, in particular its role and function towards better health. Given the present and forthcoming public health challenges as well as developments already made in the ICT field, there is no solution for "health" without eHealth, he said. He also underlined the importance of building sustainable health care, in order to ensure quality and safety of health care services. Mr Constantijn Van Oranje, Member of Cabinet of Vice President Neelie Kroes, outlined the main elements of the European Digital Agenda and its two key actions concerning eHealth. He underlined the key role that eHealth can play in ensuring better quality, effective and sustainable healthcare systems, in line with the overall objectives of the Digital Agenda to deliver social and economic benefits from digital single market.

One of the strengths of CALLIOPE is its transparent and well defined governance which enabled clear communication. This enabled the network members to trust that their input was well reflected and duly taken into account in the output produced. According to Ms Zoi Kolitsi, CALLIOPE Project Coordinator, in the CALLIOPE governance integrity, competence and commitment had been central. Among the project's achievements she mentioned the creation of a Network of a wide range of Member States and stakeholders and the CALLepSO co-operation between epSOS and CALLIOPE. Ms Michèle Thonnet introduced the proposal for a European eHealth Roadmap. The purpose of the roadmap is to accelerate the deployment of eHealth services and to identify common ways to reach interoperable solutions. The final deliverable is planned to be launched in December 2010. The roadmap also lays the groundwork for the eHealth Governance Initiative, the main objectives and characteristics which were outlined by Mr Clemens Auer, Ministry of Health, Austria. Mr Auer underlined the need for a consolidated approach and a strong political commitment to governance at policy, strategy and operational levels.

The event concluded with a lively panel discussion. Participants underlined the key role CALLIOPE had played in bringing Member States and stakeholders together to discuss interoperability, from the perspective of the users of health care services. The spirit of the co-operation had been constructive and the needs of users had been listened to and taken into account in prioritising topics. The specific input of CALLIOPE in the developing work of epSOS was quoted as one of the concrete examples in which such cooperation had been very successful. A suggestion was made to consider e-skills as a topic to be considered further in the context of interoperability. Some of the key recommendations that panel provided on the next phase of the initiative and of the work to be done on interoperability were:

  • keep close to reality, and continue a bottom-up approach
  • be optimistic but do not create illusions
  • keep the stakeholders and MS at the same table to create synergies
  • make sure you respond to users' needs
  • the leadership of users is an important factor for success

Before closing the event Mr Cabrnoch referred to the ongoing negotiation between the European Parliament, Council and the Commission on article 13 of the Commission proposal for a directive on patient's rights for cross border healthcare. He asked stakeholders to provide their input to the parliament in the discussion to ensure that the provision on eHealth in the Directive is strong enough to ensure proper and needed implementation.

Mr Cabrnoch closed the event by thanking all participants and CALLIOPE for its contribution to the overall policy objective of ensuring better care via eHealth.