Across Europe, public health systems are facing shrinking budgets and increased demand. Yet in times of austerity, ICT can be our most powerful ally to maintain cost efficient and high quality care.

The European Commission's eHealth Action Plan 2012 – 2020 provides a roadmap to empower patients and healthcare workers, link up devices and technologies, and invest in research towards the personalised medicine of the future. This means providing smarter, safer and patient-centred health services. Given the fast growing uptake of smartphones and tablets, the action plan also includes a specific focus on mobile health (mHealth).

This action plan builds on a series of pioneering initiatives that are now beginning to bear fruit such as the epSOS pilot where 23 countries are working together to achieve cross-border interoperability between electronic health record systems in Europe. Thanks to epSOS, tourists, business travellers, commuters or exchange students will be able to enjoy seamless access to high quality and safe healthcare abroad.

Renewing Health has allowed nine leading regions to pool their efforts to revolutionise the management of chronic diseases. Diabetics and heart patients, among others, can manage their own diseases from the comfort of their own homes and take an active role in improving their conditions while achieving better health outcomes.

Health-e-Child is another example of a collaborative platform. This growing network allows paediatricians across Europe to pull together essential clinical information relating to heart diseases, inflammatory diseases, and brain tumours meaning that in the future, more children suffering from these diseases will be able to benefit from early diagnosis, screening, individualised disease prevention and therapy.

But the European Commission also finances research projects targeting some of Europe's deadliest diseases. This is the case of HAMAM, that improves early detection and accurate diagnosis of breast cancer; euHeart for personalised diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease; or PASSPORT in the field of liver surgery.

Read more about the eHealth Action Plan here.