Commissioner and Vice-President Neelie Kroes said at the opening of the conference: "Imagine if there were new tools that could fix the well-known problems faced by health systems. We'd be crazy to turn our backs on them. We'd be crazy not to do everything we could to promote them, invest in them, learn about them. Well – we now do have those tools."
Health costs fell by 30% in Greece
She gave some examples: "In Italy, eHealth tools have saved one euro in every 9 spent on healthcare. In Estonia citizens can go online to review their own records, consent to procedures, check up on prescriptions. Used by almost half of citizens, 80% of prescriptions, 95% of doctors, and 100% safely and securely. Here in Greece, average costs fell by 30% since ePrescriptions were introduced - an innovation which also fights fraud and cuts over-prescribing."
Mrs Kroes announced: "I want to put health in the hands of the European citizens". She proposed giving everyone a "Personal Health Navigator" to help people find their nearest doctor, pharmacy or hospital and to give them access to their personal health data and trustworthy health information.
"Our shared ambition should be that we ensure every European citizen to be digital, connected and healthy. And that Europe will take this opportunity and gain the lead in this growing and highly innovative market", Mrs Kroes concluded her speech.
ePrescriptions everywhere in Europe?
Greek Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis emphasized that Greece has showcased best practices in the area of electronic prescribing. He noted, "if there were no ePrescriptions, the health system in our country would have collapsed", adding that eHealth is not a luxury but a necessity.
In this context, both Georgiadis and Health Commissioner Tonio Borg stressed the need to incorporate ePrescriptions into the national strategies of all EU countries.
Commissioner Borg noted in his speech that this would be discussed the following day by the high-level eHealth Network, a group of representatives of all EU Member States: "Tomorrow, the Network will discuss new guidelines for ePrescriptions. [...] These guidelines seek to facilitate the interoperability of electronic prescriptions across borders, so that electronic prescriptions can be processed easily in any European Union country; so that patients can always get the medicines they need."
At the Forum, the eHealth Network discussed a first draft of EU ePrescription guidelines, of which the adoption is expected in November 2014.
Photo (from left to right): Adonis Georgiadis, Neelie Kroes, Tonio Borg, Christina Papanikolaou in front of the stand of the European Commission.