EU Task Force to promote cross-border health IT advancements

By Chip Means
07:49 AM
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Care professionals, patient advocates and representatives of the health IT and pharmaceutical industries comprise a new EU Task Force that first assembled here in Budapest at eHealth Week 2011.

The group will advise the European Commission on eHealth practices that promote safer, more efficient healthcare delivery throughout the EU.

European hospitals aren't yet realizing the benefits of health IT; most have broadband connections, but a mere 4 percent grant patients online access to their medical data, according to research cited in an EC press release.  The Task Force will promote interoperability of IT systems across the EU as a response to these shortcomings.

[See also: European leaders: 'We have to invest in eHealth today'.]

"The potential of eHealth for delivering better and sustainable care to every European is enormous," said Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda. "I expect the eHealth Task Force to creatively think through the possible consequences and opportunities of the digital area for the way we receive and deliver healthcare and manage our health in the years to come."

The Task Force will work toward enabling patient access to data and self-service healthcare, developing modeling-based diagnostic techniques and allowing healthcare workers to spend more time to be with patients.

John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, said, "There is a clear need in Europe to exploit the potential of eHealth to deliver concrete solutions for patients... it is imperative that interoperable ICT systems and medical devices complement our initiative to give patients the right to cross-border healthcare."

[See also: Europe sets goal of EHR interoperability by 2015 .]