Sinn Féin MEP, Martina Anderson has welcomed moves in the EU to develop an action plan to investigate the benefits of using digital tools and services in institution to institution transmission and peer to peer communications to deliver enhanced health services.
Martina Anderson said:
“While Healthcare is a Member State Competency with no harmonisation on any level, there are however, a number of EU directives which are relevant for e-Health. For instance, the directive on the Application of cross-border Patients’ Rights provides the only binding provision on e-Health by stipulating the establishment of a voluntary network connecting national authorities, supported and facilitated by the EU Commission.
“As one of the Shadow Rapporteurs on the e-Health Action Plan I welcome this development which will look at using digital tools and services for health on institutions to institution transmission and peer to peer communication. The new e-Health Action Plan aims to address challenges that should improve chronic disease and unlock innovation.
“Denmark which has the fastest and most efficient e-Health data communications network report saving to the health system $120 million a year and doctors spending less time on administration tasks. Italy also reports savings of around 11.7% of national health expenditure (€12.4 billion) through utilising r-Health procedures while home tele-monitoring in parts of Britain is seeing a reduction of up to 26% in hospital days.
“It is important to ensure however, that any savings made in healthcare systems through the use of e-Health technology and should be re-invested into improved healthcare provision and not hived off into other areas of government expenditure.
“While seeking the most efficient delivery of the highest standard of healthcare through mechanisms such as e-Technology we must guard against it becoming a substitute for face-to-face contact between health professionals and patients.
“e-Health solutions must be developed in collaboration with and for the benefit of practitioners as health professionals as well as enabling patients to manage their conditions better and to live healthier productive lives. It is therefore critical that access to high-speed broadband is available to the maximum number of households, especially in rural and isolated areas.
“I will approach the task as e-Health Shadow Rapporteur with both enthusiasm and care. I will work with the experts in the field and look forward to engaging with C-TRIC, CAWT and the many organisations in the Ireland whose work will be most useful in development of this EU Action Plan.”