EU to invest in health IT for 'Digital Agenda'

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The European Commission has proposed large IT investments in a 10-year “Digital Agenda” to deliver sustainable economic and social benefits, as well as assist with transitions occurring with the digital economy, including providing better healthcare.

"The deployment of eHealth technologies in Europe can improve the quality of care, reduce medical costs and foster independent living, including in remote places," stated the report. "To exploit the full potential of new eHealth services, the EU needs to remove legal and organizational barriers, particularly those to pan-European interoperability, and strengthen cooperation among member states."

The Digital Agenda for Europe is one of the seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, set out to define the key role that the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

In the agenda, the commission proposed a minimum common set of patient data for interoperability of patient records to be accessed or exchanged electronically across the EU's 27 member states by 2012. In addition, the EC recommended member states undertake pilot programs to equip Europeans with online access to their medical health data by 2015 and to achieve widespread deployment of telemedicine services by 2020.

The Digital Agenda also proposes doubling the take-up of independent living arrangements for the elderly by 2015. "The Ambient Assisted Living [AAL] Program will promote innovation and the deployment of ICT tools in key areas such as fall prevention and support for sufferers of dementia," the report stated. AAL is intended to ensure that the "digital society permits a more independent and dignified life for people who are frail or suffer from chronic conditions and for persons with disabilities."

Interoperability testing and certification of eHealth systems is a goal for 2015 to foster EU-wide standards, the EC added.