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the number of people with chronic diseases is predicted to continue to

rise (which will put even more pressure on healthcare services, with the

cost of chronic diseases already accounting for 70-80% of total

healthcare costs in the EU) and Europe’s ageing population – Europeans

aged over 65 years already represent 17% of the total European

population, a number set to almost double by 2060 – as challenges that

“scream for innovative solutions” which can be offered by e-health.

The commissioner continued: “E-health can empower people with risk

factors and patients – we have to act in both cases. There is a huge

potential in using e-health tools to help prevent diseases and to promote

good health.

“New solutions such as mobile health apps can enable people to actively

engage in their own health management, for instance by tracking their

fitness or by monitoring their health status. Apps can invite people to

take part in screening programmes or inform about promotion

campaigns. These solutions are already becoming increasingly popular

and the market for them is growing rapidly.”

The right balance

For the potential of these advances to be truly realised, however, a shift

in how healthcare systems are organised is required so as to focus more

on prevention and promotion rather than cure. The Health Commissioner

also acknowledged that there will be other challenges, including issues

surrounding regulation.

He said: “It is not easy to find the right balance between quality, safety,

and confidentiality issues and maintaining sufficiently low barriers for

innovation. Indeed, this is a dynamic market where we need to support

European SMEs and start-ups.

“In this context, the European Innovation Partnership on Active and

Healthy Ageing plays a defining role in pushing for innovative solutions

from idea to market and to deployment across Europe. The partnership

is bringing new solutions to practice, helping millions of EU citizens to

continue to lead healthy, active and independent lives as they grow older.

providing a legislative approach to m-health

apps. Misleading medical results or

misdiagnosis are some issues these apps are

currently facing.

Christina Roosen, vice-president of HIMSS

Europe, said: “It is becoming increasingly

important for decision makers throughout

Europe to be able to meet at least once a year

in an all-encompassing event; eHealth Week is

to be the meeting point.”

E-health solutions

The event was attended by many high level

personalities, and, kicking off the conference

alongside Dr Guntis Bele¯ vicˇs, Minister for

Health of Latvia, and H Stephen Lieber, CAE

president and CEO of HIMSS, European

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety

Vytenis Andriukaitis began his presentation by

explaining how, when he began his career as

a medical doctor, handwritten health records

were kept and he was required to conduct face

to face consultations. “There was no other

way,” he said, “but this has been changing ever

since. Digital applications and digital solutions

are part of our daily lives – including in the

area of healthcare.

“It is now common for health records to be kept

electronically. Patients’ health information can

be shared between health professionals in no

time, regardless of geographic location. Remote

consultations with a doctor over the internet

facilitate access to care, save resources, and

pave the way for telemedicine and tele-

healthcare services across and within borders.

“E-health products and services are

contributing to prevention, health risk

management, and thus to more sustainable

healthcare. It also generates income and jobs

while offering high level technology solutions to

healthy people, patients and doctors,” the

commissioner stated.

Many of the challenges currently facing

Europe’s healthcare sector also stand to be

addressed via e-health, which, Andriukaitis

argued, is creating numerous new and exciting

possibilities. Amongst these challenges, he

said, is an increase in health risk factors such

as alcohol, smoking, and malnutrition as

examples of areas which are currently badly

managed, thus causing chronic diseases and

premature deaths due to the lack of prevention.

The commissioner also highlighted the fact that

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H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L

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M E D I C A L T E C H N O L O G Y & R E S E A R C H

© European Union 2015

Commissioner for

Health Vytenis

Andriukaitis

highlighted the timely

release of the Digital

Single Market with

regard to e-health