We talk about e-commerce, e-communications, e-privacy, and taking into account the widespread use and influence of the internet in and on our lives, it does not surprise that even such personalised services like healthcare begin to be more and more influenced by the electronic world. Did you know that it's an eHealth week right now? To talk about better lifestyles, the European Commission together with Denmark organised a conference in Copenhagen 'Smart Health-Better Lives'. It's just the latest initiative within the long-term and ongoing eHealth Action Plan. A special Task Force that was established a year ago in order to research the EU healthcare, presented its recommendations to the European Commission, stressing the importance of reaching an agreement on the use of healthcare data across the EU.
The five recommendations to the European Commission are as follows:
•To create a legal framework and space to manage the massive amounts of health-related data. Implement safeguards so that citizens can use health applications ("apps") with the confidence that their data will be handled appropriately. This could boost the integration of user-generated data with official medical data, leading to healthcare that is more integrated and personalised and therefore delivers better outcomes.
•Support health literacy: Health data needs to be available in a form that patients can understand. More needs to be done to explain to people how integrating appropriately anonymised data into a central system can improve healthcare for them.
•Create a 'beacon group' of Member States and regions committed to open data and eHealth, including pioneers in eHealth applications.
•Use data power: eHealth applications must prove worthy of users' trust. Only then will users make their data available for feedback on preventive care or for benchmarking and monitoring performance of health systems.
•Re-orient EU funding and policies - specific eHealth budget lines need to be responsive and to enable the development of good ideas into fast prototyping and testing. Transparency should be required from health institutions through procurement and funding criteria.