Spotlight on eHealth

The European Commission, recognising the importance of eHealth and interoperability has launched a number of projects in the area of eHealth.  As background information, you may consider the European Commission's work programme and the Health Strategy adopted by DG Sanco end-2007

The first new project is the ‘SOS’ Large Scale Pilot Project and the CALLIOPE Thematic Network Project eHealth initiatives to support medical assistance while travelling and living abroad.  Launched on 2 July 2008 by the European Commission, the ‘Smart Open Services’ (SOS) Large Scale Pilot Project aims to improve the safety and quality of care to people who require medical assistance while travelling or living abroad. The SOS Project, co-funded by the European Commission under its Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP), is supported by 12 Member States and their industry players.

A number of COCIR members are participating bringing their expertise and commitment to the project that will take shape over the next 3 years.  In addition, the project will draw on the experience of the ‘Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise’  or IHE-Europe when working on achieving true interoperability between healthcare IT systems.  IHE-Europe is also a partner in the project.

The results of the Large Scale Pilot Project will be disseminated to the wider European healthcare community via the ‘Call for Interoperable eHealth services in Europe’ (CALLIOPE) Thematic Network Project in which COCIR and IHE-Europe are participating.

The second piece of eHealth news to come out of the European Commission is the ‘Commission Recommendation on cross-border interoperability of EHR systems’

Further to the announcement of the ‘SOS’ Large Scale Pilot Project, the European Commission (DG INFSO) published its ‘Recommendation on Cross-Border Interoperability of EHR Systems’.  The Recommendation addresses the steps that Member States should take to establish electronic health record (EHR) systems which are interoperable across borders allowing health professionals from another country to quickly access basic yet vital patient information. 

Ensuring that EHR systems can work together across Europe will help improve the quality and safety of care but also allow for necessary economies of scale.  This is an important step towards a single European healthcare market as it will result in reducing costs for eHealth infrastructure and services as it enables industry to build and offer solutions on the basis of existing and internationally-aligned standards.

The Commission also recommends that Member States consider incentives for investment in eHealth and plan to launch education and awareness raising programs.

A third initiative is the eHealth Mandate (M/403) which has been given to the three European standardisation bodies, CEN, CENELEC and ETSI.  Their task is to identify and promote common standards to help streamline the introduction of eHealth across the EU.  COCIR is participating in the Industry Team of the eHealth-Interop group, set up to respond to this Mandate through the creation of a Roadmap.