Digital Health has been identified as a priority in the European Commission 2006 Aho report ‘Creating an innovative Europe’ and the subsequent 2007 Lead Market Initiative. Since then the European Commission has developed a number of policies supporting eHealth.
Adopted in 2011, the Directive on Patient Rights in Cross Border Healthcare (2011/24/EU) establishes the right for EU citizens to seek healthcare in another European country and to seek reimbursement in their home country. It lays the foundations for the cross-border exchange of health data through Digital Health.
Adopted on 19th May 2010 the Digital Agenda for EuropeCOM(2010)245 Final aims to maximize the social and economic potential of ICT; spur innovation, economic growth and improve daily life of citizens and business.
The Digital Agenda works towards –among others - eHealth interoperability, deployment of telemedicine and access to one’s data online.
The eHealth Action Plan adopted by the European Commission on 7 January 2012 outlines four pillars to boost the deployment of eHealth and proposes 16 actions for the Commission, Member States and stakeholders.
One of the Commission’s competencies in the area of healthcare is to encourage cooperation between Member States. The European Commission provides Member States a platform to cooperate on common goals related to patient summaries, eHealth interoperability and common e-identification.
Adopted on 4 November 2008, the Commision Communication on telemedicine for the benefit of patients, healthcare systems and society aims to foster the use of telemedicine and remote monitoring solutions to address societal challenges such as the rise of chronic conditions, the ageing population, the shortage of healthcare professionals and healthcare rising costs.
eHealth interoperability is a priority of the European Commission, as outlined in the Digital Agenda key action 13, various actions of the eHealth Action Plan , the ICT standardisation Regulation, etc. The objective is to foster interoperability to enable the deployment and the scaling up of eHealth within and across countries.
Adopted on 4 October 2012, the Regulation on European standardisation, recognises the role of fora and consortia in identifying ICT technical specifications.
Adopted on 27 September 2012, the Europe strategy for cloud computing entitled ‘Unleashing the Potential of Cloud Computing in Europe’ proposes a number of measures to reap the benefits cloud computing can bring to citizens, administrations and businesses. It does not address eHealth in particular, but some actions can have an indirect impact on eHealth.
There is no specific EU policy dedicated to mHealth. However all eHealth related policies apply to mHealth and the European Commission plans to adopt by 2014 a Green Paper on mHealth and health wellbeing applications.
The eHealth Action Plan promotes international cooperation at global level, on various aspects where cooperation would be beneficial: interoperability, benchmarking, evidence collection, improving ICT skills.