The event also featured representatives of the EU institutions and key stakeholders such as doctors, nurses and patients.
Participants at the roundtable agreed that the necessary progress demands greater legal clarity, balanced integration of care and further sharing and dissemination of good eHealth practices in Europe
Healthcare delivery is changing in order to provide accessible healthcare services with scarcer resources, whilst ensuring service quality and a high level of patient safety. New technologies can support healthcare systems to meet these challenges.
Despite significant EU initiatives in this area including the 2012 eHealth Action Plan, ongoing European Parliament reports on eHealth and patient safety and a forthcoming green paper on Mobile Health (mHealth), as well three decades of eHealth investment by Member States, there remains some scepticism about the value of eHealth. Supporting the dissemination of evidence of good eHealth practice is therefore crucial to enable the EU as a whole to reap the benefits.
To pursue that aim, ACCA and hanover organised in Brussels a roundtable co-hosted by MEPs Antonyia Parvanova and Rebecca Taylor entitled 'eHealth: towards improving patient safety, increasing clinical accountability and addressing information governance' (1). It began with the presentation of a new eHealth and patient safety study completed by ACCA at Leicester University Hospital in the UK, which explores the impact of adopting a mobile and fully interoperable patient hand-over system, developed in partnership with Nervecentre. The report demonstrates that the e-handover tool not only increased patient safety, but also won the confidence of the doctors and nurses using it and promises to generate a good return on investment for the hospital.
Antonyia Parvanova MEP co-host of the event said: 'I am delighted to co-host this timely roundtable after the adoption at the last plenary session of the report on Patient Safety, and in the light of the upcoming vote on the eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020, on which I engaged very actively in my role as shadow rapporteur. The present ACCA study, as well as calling for greater legal clarity around the use of eHealth solutions, underlines the importance of sharing good eHealth practices in Europe. It serves the very important purpose of adding to the much needed body of evidence that eHealth solutions in daily care delivery are a good investment for health systems. We indeed need more 'ammunitions' to convince healthcare professionals, healthcare funders, and of course also patients, that eHealth is a core element of improving the quality and efficiency of healthcare.'
Mark Millar, ACCA member and UK Hospital Chief Executive, who moderated the debate said: 'ACCA takes a wide view about deriving economic benefits and public interest. The Leicester study being discussed this evening is the latest in a series we have undertaken in ehealth. The safety and quality benefits shown in our analysis is timely in a UK and wider European context at the moment. Non-financial benefits are carrying greater weight as we all try to deliver safe high quality healthcare within a limited budget. There are a lot of initiatives and projects at the moment throughout Europe, we can see a progress, but we need to ensure the right implementation, at scale, which is so far not consistent across the various Member States.'
Rebecca Taylor, MEP and co-host of the event, concluded the debate: 'It was great to hear such a concrete example as the ACCA study; a relatively simple solution to a real life problem doctors face every day. The debate revealed a need for more legislative clarity in particular in relation to data protection, liability and insurance, as well as training for healthcare professionals, integration of care that does not increase workload burden, and patient involvement and education.'