Around 1,000 eHealth enthusiasts from across Europe gathered in Malta to exchange knowledge and share best practices as part of the annual eHealth Week. This year's European digital health event saw inspiring keynote speakers, many winners and a voting poll on sharing health data, the theme of the conference. Photos and presentations of eHealth Week are now available.

Commissioner Andriukaitis

In his opening speech, Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis commented on the right of every citizen to securely access and share their personal health data. "52% of EU citizens want online access to their health records, according to a survey published today.

"Electronic health records will empower patients, and help improve clinical practice and continuity of care, by giving health and care practitioners a more comprehensive view of the patient’s medical background and history".

'Beautiful marriage'

Regional Director Dr. Suzanna Jakab of the World Health Organisation (WHO) added: "The WHO firmly believes that eHealth is key in achieving Universal Health Coverage - a collective expression and commitment by Member States to the basic human right of equitable access to healthcare - without the risk of financial ruin or impoverishment". Dr. Jakab said the collaboration of eHealth and Public Health as a "beautiful marriage", describing eHealth Week as: "A celebration of our commitment and dedication to reaping the benefits of eHealth for all."

Lieber reinforced the importance of the conference’s main theme: "The topic around 'Data for Health' is more relevant for the eHealth Community than ever. The numbers speak for themselves: according to the HIMSS Europe Annual Survey from 2016, more than half of European healthcare professionals, 54% to be specific, are struggling with exchanging information and data, both internally and externally, within their organisation".

Poll on health data

Through the eHealth Week app, participants could answer a couple of questions on health data:

  • Have you ever accessed your own health record data online? 49% said yes; 51% said no;
  • How easy or difficult do you think people in general find it to access their own health record data? 6% answered "Easy"; 49% said "So and so", 45% thought it was difficult;
  • Do you use mobile apps or wearable devices to measure your physical activity? An overwhelming 72% said yes, 13% used to but stopped, 15% never did;
  • Are you concerned about the security and privacy of the data captured by health apps and wearable devices? 56% yes against 44% no;
  • Would you share your personal health data for research and public health purposes? "Yes even if I'm identifiable": 37%; "Yes but only if it is fully and irreversibly anonymised": 58%, "No": 5%;
  • The personal health data industry has the potential to become the key driver for disease prevention and health system transformation. 64% agreed "Yes in the near future and it's already happening"; 29% replied "Possibly, but not for a long time yet"; 7% replied "No I don't think we should go in this direction".

Celebrating accomplishments in digital health: eHealth Adoption Awards

Next to being an educational event, eHealth Week celebrates significant achievements within the (e-)Health sector. As such, a number of accomplishments from across Europe were recognised on stage:

Out of three finalists, the winner of the eHealth Adoption Awards was 'My diabetes my way': an online diabetes platform created by the University of Dundee for NHS Scotland. On the website you can learn all about diabetes (leaflets, videos, educational tools and games) and you can view your own up-to-date diabetes clinic results, to help you manage your condition more effectively.

The Adoption Awards showcase real innovation for the benefit of patientsare and are meant as inspiring examples.

eHealth Leadership Award

Ex-Commission colleague and Principal eHealth Policy Analyst at EHTEL Diane Whitehouse won the HIMSS Europe 2017 eHealth Leadership Award. Whitehouse (from the UK) has offered expert advice and guidance on a considerable number of EU-funded projects, roadmaps and studies on topics such as telehealth and interoperability.

European Kate Granger Award for Compassionate Care

The European Kate Granger Award for Compassionate Care was also handed over: This award is named after an English doctor who worked tirelessly to raise awareness around compassion in healthcare while undergoing treatment for cancer: Dr Kate Granger. Dr Granger, who sadly passed away in July 2016, launched the awards to recognise people and organisations deliver care with compassion at its heart.

This year's winner is Eilis Hession from Ireland. As manager at 'Living Well with Dementia', her leadership skills, extended outreach to the entire local community and her aim to prioritise compassionate care at the forefront of her work, were some of the deciding factors for the judging panel.