15 Apr, 14 | by ltempler
On 11 April 2014, the European Commission published a series of reports by the eHealth Stakeholder Group (eHSG), an advisory group of which EAHP was an active member.
The reports related to:
- eHealth interoperability
- patient’s access to Electronic Health Records
- eHealth inequalities
- Telemedicine deployment (Key Action 13 of Digital Agenda)
The report on eHealth interoperability is connected to the European Commission’s operational objective, set out in itseHealth Action Plan 2012-2020, to achieve wider interoperability of ehealth services by the end of 2015. The principal recommendations from the stakeholder group to the Commission included:
- focus on priority use cases which have been widely adopted and for which mature specifications exist;
- clarify privacy and data protection requirements; and,
- foster the use of international standards.
On patient access to the electronic health records, the stakeholders recommended that:
- patients should be in charge of their own medical file, and be able to ‘log in’ and inspect it. Amongst the reasoning given was that: “The option to access one”s own information is a fundamental right that is embodied in the EU Data Protection legislation”;
- access to patients” health records should only be permitted to the health professionals directly involved with the patient”s condition on a need to know basis;
- patients should be given the possibility to know who accessed their EHR and restrict access if they wish so and are informed about the risks of doing so.
The report on ehealth inequalities looked at the concern that the rise of ehealth applications may have an unintended consequence of increasing health inequalities. Stakeholders believed that the speed of change, the costs involved in accessing and upgrading the required hardware/software and devices and various barriers related to insufficient knowledge, skills and literacy, lack of user-friendliness and doubts over the meaningfulness of information can all present the possibility of new health inequalities.
However, if directed appropriately, ehealth could also address inequalities. Sweden is held up in the report as a good case study, with its national strategy on eHealth including provisions on ‘’eServices for accessibility and empowerment’’. Another good case study identified is the practice in Danish hospitals of providing interpretation services via video conferencing, which is particularly useful for migrants unfamiliar with Danish medical culture and treatments.
The report recommends:
- various categories of end users have to be an integral part of the design, evaluation and follow-up during the whole lifecycle of technologies so that particular challenges experienced by specific user groups can be understood and rectified;
- when implementing large-scale eHealth systems, adequate consideration should be given to the needs of vulnerable groups such as children, migrants or people with mental and other disabilities;
- the creation of sufficient incentives for industry to come up with solutions for underserved patients and communities; and,
- some financial subsidies be made available for the purchase of eHealth equipment/ICT access for patients from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The report on telemedicine, advised the Commission to clearly differentiate two types of telemedicine services:
- medical Act type telemedicine services, implying that registered medical doctors perform an existing medical practice over a distance; and,
- telemonitoring type services, services provide multi-professional care teams with physiological parameters of the patient, with the support of remote monitoring technologies
The latter is seen as the more disruptive technology of two, challenging health care organization, professional roles and reimbursement rules. The report’s recommendations include:
- digital literacy and training in using eHealth tools should become part of the educational curricula of all Health Professionals; and,
- benefit and added value of telemedicine services should be systematically monitored and evaluated.
More information and the original post can be found on the EAHP website here