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More evidence and better early stakeholders' engagement for eHealth

Date

30 Jun 2010

Sections

Health & Consumers

The use of ICT in healthcare - or eHealth - has clear benefits, but there needs to be bigger campaigns to engage more clearly all stakeholders from the start, especially doctors and patients. These were the conclusions of a breakfast meeting hosted by Bulgarian MEP Antonyia Parvanova (ALDE) and organised recently by ACCA ( the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), where it was also agreed that politicians need to give more support for improvements to happen.

eHealth aims to improve the access to healthcare, the quality and safety of care and the sustainability of health system as well as to empower patients and enhance outcomes oriented healthcare.

The Commission has presented in July 2008 a proposal for a Directive on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare. Supported in April 2009 by the European Parliament, it includes in its article 14 some measures to improve member state cooperation on eHealth. This is an important step forward, because there is no legal basis so far and the fact that the EU’s new ‘Europe 2020’ strategy does not refer to eHealth does not help.

However member states do not seem in a hurry to make this further steps towards EU legislation since the Council amendments to the Directive proposal are transforming a legal text into a mere ‘‘declaration of intent’’

“The benefits of eHealth investments in the healthcare sector in the European Union” were the centre of attention of a recent panel discussion led by MEP Parvanova , Nathalie Chaze, acting head of DG SANCO’s health strategy and systems unit, Ilias Iakovidis, acting head of the ‘ICT for Health’ unit of DG INFSO and Dean Westcott, ACCA Vice President and Navin Bedi, a senior doctor and a consultant in the emergency department of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

The session revolved around the significant measurable improvements that can be achieved by a large teaching hospital thanks to the implementation of collaborative technology, and how reliable ICT could help health organisations contribute to sustainably maintaining health in Europe.

The debate originated from a recent cost benefit study into ICT investments in healthcare conducted by ACCA, on behalf of the European Commission’ Information Society & Media DG, and in co-operation with Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

The study shows that since the deployment of the new technology (in this case the fixed and portable handsets solution was proposed and developed by Cisco) in one of the largest and busiest Emergency department in Europe, patients spend significantly less time waiting for treatment. Similarly, doctors have increased their available time for direct patient care time by around 40 minutes per day, hence improving both patient and staff satisfaction.

“Timely and managed ICT investments applied across the healthcare sector can result in very tangible – and measurable – qualitative and quantitative benefits, including not only clinical improvements but also significant cost savings and return in investment, accruing to the professional healthcare community and to EU citizens”, said Dean Westcott, ACCA Vice President.

“It is key to engage the clinical staff from the outset, explained Dr Navin Bedi. “The human factor of the new system mixed with technology supports a more collaborative working environment”, he added.

The lack of progress on the use of ICT in healthcare is frustrating - especially since there is a lot of potential- and we therefore need more evidence to convince both healthcare professionals and patients, but also politicians, who need to try and reach a multi party agreement.

“A sustained increase in the level of ICT investments now requires the co-operation of all stakeholders in following a realistic strategy for the deployment of e-health technologies. The real challenge is the financial commitment from Member States through a coordinated approach to invest in ICT in the health environment” Dean Westcott concluded.

- ends -

For further information, please contact:

Cecile Bonino

tel:+32 (0) 2 286 11 37

mob: +44 (0) 7809595008

cecile.bonino@accaglobal.com

Notes to Editors

         1. The study entitled Collaboration and communication technology at the heart of hospital transformation is available at http://www.accaglobal.com/documents/CCT.pdf

         2. ACCA is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. We have 362,000 students and 131,500 members in 170 countries worldwide.

         3. ACCA has worked with governments, national organisations and development agencies in emerging economies- for over 20 years- promoting the accounting profession, to create value for the communities, businesses and individuals it serves.

         4. ACCA believes that globalisation of business means that one set of reporting standards is essential. We favour the principles-based IFRS.

         5. ACCA understands the real issues facing small businesses as 63,000 of our members work in SMEs or small partnerships worldwide.

 

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