Press release: ETNO 3rd Innovation Day
ETNO calls for strong stakeholder co-operation to boost e-health take up throughout Europe: ETNO called today for a strong cooperation between all actors in healthcare across the EU in order to remove legal and organisational barriers and accelerate the take up of e-health by medical community and users. ETNO 3rd Innovation Day was opened by Commissioner Neelie Kroes and attended by about 200 representatives from the EU institutions, national and regional authorities, medical and patient organisations, telecoms operators and vendors.
Brussels – ETNO called today for a strong cooperation between all actors in healthcare across the EU in order to remove legal and organisational barriers and accelerate the take up of e-health by medical community and users. ETNO 3rd Innovation Day was opened by Commissioner Neelie Kroes and attended by about 200 representatives from the EU institutions, national and regional authorities, medical and patient organisations, telecoms operators and vendors.
Leading telecoms operators involved in e-health, including Belgacom, Deutsche Telekom, KPN, Orange, Portugal Telecom, Telecom Italia and Telefonica, gave interactive demonstrations of innovative applications which are already used by the medical community and patients.
Introducing the ETNO Innovation Day, Commissioner Kroes declared: “You run the essential infrastructure – broadband and other communications networks – which can revolutionise how health is managed. Our systems are guaranteed to collapse if we do not make radical changes. Sustainable eHealth investment clearly requires a lot more than finance alone. It requires more efficient patenting, the right data laws, smarter procurement, de-fragmenting markets, and quicker standard-setting. Personal health solutions do more than improve lives - they both save and make money at the same time. They depend on new broadband business models that can generate win-win-win for healthcare providers, end-users and telcos. The size and strength in today's increasingly ICT-driven economy places you in a powerful position to instigate positive change. If you and I want to experience the care we know is possible – we really have to get our act together.”
Mr. Gabriele Galateri, Chairman of Telecom Italia has stated: “E-health is not only a promising business segment for the ICT industry, but also a key opportunity for the European citizens' welfare and a driver of economic growth, as more efficient healthcare systems may help Member States to better deal with their budgetary constraints. Today's event aims at demonstrating telecom operators' commitment for its development and at gathering the contribution of all involved actors”.
How to accelerate the take up of e-health applications by patients and medical community was the main theme of a debate moderated by Constantijn van Oranje, member of Vice President Kroes’ Cabinet, with doctors, regional authorities and operators.
In a video statement, Dr. Ana Jorge, Portuguese Health Minister, noted: “The European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (…) has been an important driver, able to produce new energy, revolutionary indeed, considering its capacity to change lives, in an absolutely radical way. Today with ICT, we can believe that everyone, even those with disabilities, has access to the world through these real integrating vehicles.”
In order to boost e-health and achieve a wide application of e-health and independent living solutions in line with the Innovation Union, ETNO makes the following recommendations:
- Addressing the lack of standards which is prohibiting widespread implementation of ICT based healthcare solutions. There is a need for a continuous network among those being involved in healthcare – insurers, hospitals, doctors, pharmacies and laboratories - to move beyond individual pilot projects and create uniform standards for exchanging data, on the model of the IHE (Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise);
- Ensuring continuity of care within and amongst EU countries, allowing users and doctors to have access to patients' data with a login and password anywhere in the EU, for example, when a citizen has an accident in other EU member state. The EU should encourage member states to agree on specifications and procedures;
- Ensuring interoperability across existing clinical information systems, with the assistance of the medical community to reflect their real needs;
- Clarifying regulatory aspects at the EU and member states levels related to e-Health software applications that will be used by patients at home or through smartphones;
- Addressing legal and security aspects when provisioning/deploying e-Health services across borders;
- Overcoming economic barriers for the target population (elderly often with low-income profile) by including e-health services in healthcare reimbursement schemes;
- Using EU funds for large scale deployment of e-Health applications.
The healthcare sector is looking for new models that offer more efficient treatment processes while lowering costs. The increased use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is one promising possibility. Technically, the opportunities already exist – telecoms operators have developed solutions.
ETNO members also insist on the key importance of data security as a prerequisite for success of e-health, as health related information of patients is one of the most sensitive information and must have the strongest protection possible. Data security has to be guaranteed at national as well as on European level.
A wider use of e-health solutions implies a transition from traditional disease management to a prevention culture. Such a move requires a mutual understanding among all stakeholders. Through its Innovation Day, ETNO wishes to demonstrate to the Commission its commitment to closely cooperate in order to achieve this objective.