Digital health and care refers to tools and services that use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve prevention, diagnosis, treatment, monitoring and management of health-related issues and to monitor and manage lifestyle-habits that impact health. Digital health and care is innovative and can improve access to care and the quality of that care, as well as to increase the overall efficiency of the health sector.
Shaping Europe's digital future
“A Europe fit for the digital age” is one of the six political priorities of the Commission 2019-2024. Building upon precedent initiatives enhancing the creation of a Digital Single Market, the digital transition should be something that benefits everyone, putting people first and opening new opportunities for business. Health is one of the sectors included in this agenda, given the potential benefits that digital services have to offer citizens and enterprises in this area.
2018 Communication on Digital Health and Care
The Commission's Communication on the Transformation of Digital Health and Care of April 2018 aims to enhance the digitisation of the health and care sectors.
The Communication identifies 3 pillars around which activities will be based:
Pillar 1: Secure data access and sharing
To facilitate greater acces to cross-border healthcare, the Commission is building the eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure to allow e-prescriptions and patient summaries to be exchanged between healthcare providers. The first cross-border exchanges started in 2019, with the goal of having all the other EU countries on board by 2025. In the longer term, the Commission is working towards establishing a European electronic health record exchange format that is accessible to all EU citizens.
Pillar 2: Connecting and sharing health data for research, faster diagnosis and improved health
The second pillar of the 2018 Communication intends to tap into the huge potential of health data to support medical research with the aim of improving prevention, diagnosis, treatments, drugs and medical devices.
Pillar 3: Strengthening citizen empowerment and individual care through digital services
Digital services can empower citizens, making it easier for them to take a greater role in the management of their own health from following prevention guidelines and being motivated to lead healthier lifestyles, to managing chronic conditions and providing feedback to healthcare providers. Health systems will also benefit from innovative care models that use telehealth and mHealth to address the rising demand for healthcare, helping to shift progessively towards integrated and personalised care systems.