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Plan d'action pour la santé en ligne 2012-2020 - Des soins de santé innovants pour le XXIe siècle

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Opinion Number: CDR 2063/2013
Rapporteur: SAUWENS Johan
Commission: NAT
Status: Adopted
Date: 03/07/2013
 
• points out that the development of eHealth services must benefit all EU citizens by giving them the opportunity to take control over their own healthcare and cannot lead to further inequalities in terms of access and use of healthcare services;
• notes that, in many EU Member States, local and regional authorities bear some of the responsibility for planning, designing, implementing, testing and funding health and welfare policy. It is therefore evident that regional authorities must be closely involved in any reforms that impact healthcare and welfare;
• calls for sustained efforts to promote health education, innovation and change, driven by commitment to excellence and awareness that today's solutions may be outdated by tomorrow in the rapidly changing eHealth environment;
• draws attention to the large volumes of health, welfare and social care data, all currently stored in separate systems and argues that a more efficient and interservice use of these data could reinvent European healthcare systems and create a more robust and effective care continuum;
• notes that the key factors for the successful development and introduction of eHealth solutions include local government involvement, decentralised data storage, good dissemination of information to patients and the public and an active collaboration with health professionals;
• reiterates that the large-scale deployment of eHealth is not just a question of legal and technical feasibility, but depends first and foremost on the trust that patients, health professionals and the public place in it; therefore believes that it is important to address the issues around privacy, confidentiality, data protection and liability to ensure that sensitive data are protected from hacking, leaks, privacy breaches and other forms of abuse.
Despite the fact that the Rapporteur has not have the opportunity to meet his EP counterpart, the Parliament's report, as presented to the Plenary, includes a number of elements that can be met with approval by the Committee of the Regions.

ENVI Committee recognises that eHealth applications "allow for decentralised healthcare policies at regional or local level and for adapting healthcare policies to local needs and differences" (point 3).

Recommends that the necessary steps be taken to close the digital gap between the different regions of the Member States and to ensure that having access to and use of eHealth services does not become a source of social or territorial inequality, in order that they benefit all EU citizens equally, reaching patients who are not familiar with ICT technologies as well as those who otherwise would be excluded or underserviced by national healthcare systems.

The CoR opinion condemns cuts to Connecting Europe Facility and questions whether the large-scale deployment of interoperable cross-border eHealth services remains feasible in such circumstances, whilst calling on the EU institutions to maintain the funding stream under the Horizon 2020. The ENVI Committee clearly backs the CoR, declaring in point 13 that "the proposed cuts to the Connecting Europe facility for broadband and digital services are deeply regrettable, especially given the current crisis of competitiveness in the Union" and expressing its hope "that financing for this area under Horizon2020 will be maintained". It further "encourages local and regional authorities to make effective use of EU funds to finance eHealth without thereby reducing funding for traditional health services, such as by closing down community-owned hospitals – and to share health literacy knowledge".

Another similarity of opinions can be detected in the field of knowledge transfer and sharing. The CoR "sees the need for more interregional cooperation and exchanges of practical and policy experience, to enable those at the forefront of eHealth to transfer knowledge to newcomers". The EP Rapporteurs calls on the Member States in point 30 to "to step up cooperation on eHealth at national and regional level, but also at cross-border level so that countries further advanced in this field can communicate what they have learned to those with less experience".

Building of the above, the ENVI Ctte stresses in the paragraph 32 that "the Member States should continue to collaborate by means of electronic platforms that allow them to share good practices regarding eHealth systems and solutions, and that and both the Commission and the Member States should support the connection between the different eHealth projects in the EU". The CoR Rapporteur felt in turn that "European Commission can play a role here, by collecting and collating knowledge and best practice. An in-depth analysis needs to be undertaken into which eHealth initiatives and models can most effectively be implemented on an EU-wide scale" .

Finally, it is worth to highlight point 50 of the EP draft report, which "Calls on the Commission to allow membership of all regional authorities that are competent for eHealth applications in the eHealth Network set up through Directive 2011/24/EU". This idea, absent from the CoR opinion, is certainly to be welcomed and one can only hope that it will be retained in the final version and that the Commission will bend its ear to this request.
THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS



- points out that the development of eHealth services must benefit all EU citizens by giving them the opportunity to take control over their own healthcare and cannot lead to further inequalities in terms of access and use of healthcare services;

- notes that, in many EU Member States, local and regional authorities bear some of the responsibility for planning, designing, implementing, testing and funding health and welfare policy. It is therefore evident that regional authorities must be closely involved in any reforms that impact healthcare and welfare;

- calls for sustained efforts to promote health education, innovation and change, driven by commitment to excellence and awareness that today's solutions may be outdated by tomorrow in the rapidly changing eHealth environment;

- draws attention to the large volumes of health, welfare and social care data, all currently stored in separate systems and argues that a more efficient and interservice use of these data could reinvent European healthcare systems and create a more robust and effective care continuum;

- notes that the key factors for the successful development and introduction of eHealth solutions include local government involvement, decentralised data storage, good dissemination of information to patients and the public and an active collaboration with health professionals;

- reiterates that the large-scale deployment of eHealth is not just a question of legal and technical feasibility, but depends first and foremost on the trust that patients, health professionals and the public place in it; therefore believes that it is important to address the issues around privacy, confidentiality, data protection and liability to ensure that sensitive data are protected from hacking, leaks, privacy breaches and other forms of abuse.
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