Let us dream a little. What if were possible for all European citizens to receive in each and every Member State exactly the same healthcare that they currently receive in their own country?
What if it were possible for every European citizen to select the precise place where they can receive that healthcare? What if they were to have the means and the information about Europe's healthcare organisations and healthcare infrastructure so as to ensure absolutely their own continuity of care?
It is precisely these kinds of scenarios that the 2004 eHealth Action Plan (COM(2004)356) facilitates by proposing both a set of actions and an associated roadmap to help in defining a European eHealth Information Space.
Today’s eHealth solutions in Europe are extremely select, designed in particular circumstances very often for limited numbers of patients or health professionals, in idiosyncratic circumstances: in summary – they are fragmented. To turn the situation round, a more effective coordination of implementation efforts of eHealth systems and services would greatly benefit patients, industry and health systems across the whole of the European Union. A more structured approach to an integrated, interoperable European approach to eHealth systems and services would be a great step forward.
This progress report describes the main results of a first year of work since the publication of the eHealth Action Plan: activities undertaken by the European Commission and Member States together. There has particularly been a very close cooperation between the Commission services and the members of the i2010 subgroup on eHealth.
The report also gives an overview of the next steps to come, and the results anticipated from a number of projects and studies that have been launched in the Action Plan's first year.
Indeed, the report illustrates both the promises inherent but also the difficulties evident in such an ambitious initiative. Ultimately, this collaboration must depend on the engagement of the main actors involved and the resources, organisational, human and financial, invested in it.