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Archive for April, 2014

Four reports of eHealth Stakeholder Group published

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

19th Congress of the EAHP looks to the future hospital pharmacist in 2020

3 Apr, 14 | by ltempler

A major talking point of last week’s Congress of the EAHP in Barcelona was the future roles and competencies for hospital pharmacists in the year 2020 and beyond.  Drawing from the keynote speech of Dr. Roberto Frontini on Thursday 27th March, attendees debated the extent to which the future hospital pharmacist must more thoroughly adopt ‘social competencies’ in order to effectively communicate with increasingly health literate patients.

On Wednesday 26th March, Prof. Daan Crommelin explored with Congress attendees the social drivers of innovation. He urged hospital pharmacists to understand the essential need for any profession to adopt innovation in order to survive, as well as the importance of maintaining open minds about adopting new technologies from other sectors. On the final day of Congress, Dr. Graham Walton investigated the problem of knowledge management in times of information overload. Whilst the problem is driven to a large degree by new technologies, coping strategies are available by putting in place effective working practices.

With the exception of the main auditorium, it was standing room only for many sessions, including the Synergy Satellite event on novel anticoagulants, and the topical seminar on drug shortages. The Synergy event, supported by an educational grant from Bayer Pharmaceuticals, examined how choices about oral anticoagulants can best be made. Synergy speaker Duncan McRobbie of Guy’s and St. Thomas hospitals (London) also took attendees through some of the primary patient compliance considerations in the area of anticoagulation treatment.

At the drug shortages seminar, Dr Thomas Langebner reflected on the changes within the pharmaceutical sector that could be driving the growing problem. This included the expiry of major patents, increasing complexity of global medicines supply chains, failure of quality management, and the unintended consequences of cost containment measures. He made a personal call for the European Union to understand the urgency of the problem and to take steps to re-establish sustainable supply systems.

Attendees also packed the session room for the new Congress programme feature, ‘Good Practice Initiatives’(GPIs). A full house heard about noteworthy examples of practice improvements from the change-makers themselves, with opportunities provided to draw inspiration for the attendees’ return to their hospital setting.

Speaking at the end of the week’s events, Congress organiser and EAHP Chief Operating Officer Jennie De Greef said:

“The hot topics covered, unique networking opportunities, and ever-growing programme of events continues to see the EAHP Congress broaden its international reach and attendance.  We depart Barcelona with a spring in our step and real momentum to reach new heights again in Hamburg in 2015. Finally, I want to express gratitude to all of EAHP’s sponsors and especially, Platinum partners Amgen and Bayer, and Corporate Partner Pfizer, for making the year-on-year realisation of our educational ambitions possible.”

Rationing of chemotherapy drugs in Europe a possibility

1 Apr, 14 | by ltempler

News from an EAHP congress seminar has shown that rationing of chemotherapy in Europe is a possibility if the shortages problem is not resolved.

This startling news was revealed by Wolf-Dieter Ludwig, medical director and head of haematology, oncology, and tumour immunology at the Robert Rössle Clinic, Helios Hospital Berlin-Buch, Germany. He followed this statement with the insistence that pharmaceutical companies should be penalised if they fail to register drug shortages six months in advance.

His comments echoed remarks made by Thomas Langebner, chief pharmacist at the Hospital of the Sisters of Mercy in Linz, Austria, that pharmaceutical companies are unwilling to produce generic medicines if they do not make a profit which then leads to shortages.

Dr Langebner said that medicines have a “product life cycle”, going from development, introduction, growth and maturity to eventual decline, at which point companies often develop an exit strategy. He then explained that excessively high prices of new medicines and low prices of mature medicines after their patent expires discourage production of established drugs. However he also explained that these mature drugs are not useless and it is just as essential to secure a supply of these as it is to generate innovative medicines.

Dr Ludwig went further, saying that he believes the supply of older medicines is more important than that of new drugs. This is because many mature cancer medicines cannot be replaced, he explained. He suggested that pharmaceutical companies should be offered financial incentives to keep older medicines on the market. Dr Langebner argued that the price curve needs to be “flattened”, so that there is not such a sharp difference in price once a medicine loses its patent, which would encourage companies to keep producing it.

Read more and answer the medicine shortages survey here

Latest from European Journal of Hospital Pharmacy

Latest from European Journal of Hospital Pharmacy