eHealth to lead Europe’s digital integration agenda

European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes will unveil a "digital agenda for Europe" next month that will set out her vision of a more integrated Europe...

European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes will unveil a "digital agenda for Europe" next month that will set out her vision of a more integrated Europe based on information and communications technologies.

Speaking at an e-health conference, Kroes said the European Patients Smart Open Services (epSOS) project was an "inspirational model".

epSOS is a large-scale pilot of patient summary and electronic prescription information that allows patients to receive appropriate treatment in any member state. So far, 12 states and 31 industry partners are signed up to the pilot.

epSOS aimed to develop a practical eHealth framework and IT infrastructure that would provide secure access to patient health records, particularly basic patient summaries and ePrescriptions, by different European healthcare systems.

Kroes said she wanted to set concrete goals to mobilise and address the legal and organisational barriers that were holding back innovation in Europe.

"In doing so, we must also ensure we do not compromise the values we believe in, [such as] the quality of our care and the privacy any individual is entitled to," she said.

A key to success was to create pan-European interoperability between various initiatives, eHealth being one, she said. Others include Stork, the pan-European identity document project.

"I do not want to see us get stuck at the stage of delivering 'only' electronic patient records. That is, no doubt, a huge challenge in itself. But we need also to work together to deliver tools for patients that prevent health problems and personalise their healthcare," she said.

One example was to develop wearable and portable personal health systems. These should be "mainstreamed" to become standard care, she said.

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