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ICT applied to health – ehealth is at the heart of Patient Safety


23 Jun 2011

eHealth has a rich and wide-ranging potential but its implementation still faces obstacles, including a lack of compatibility between eHealth systems. More legal clarity, political will and dissemination of best practices are urgently needed, were the main conclusions of a recent roundtable held in the European Parliament.

On 21st June, Dr Antonyia Parvanova MEP hosted a roundtable entitled “Ehealth at the heart of patient safety, efficiency and clinical governance: how innovation can benefit healthcare systems” jointly organised by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and Hanover ,  at the European Parliament in Brussels.

This event, which brought together more than 60 European and national experts, helped to feed into the current second eHealth action plan debate and to contribute to the dissemination of much needed best practices and the large-scale deployment of eHealth solutions.

Dr Parvanova explained: “The second eHealth action plan is now being prepared by the European Commission services. In that context, today’s event helped increase awareness of the benefits and opportunities of eHealth, which were very well illustrated by both case studies  presented .  Concrete work and initiatives already existing in the field of eHealth are needed  to  bring  an evidence-based dynamic  for the development of eHealth at EU and national level. We should now continue working on delivering concrete measures and action, with one final objective: the provision of  safe, efficient and high-quality  care for the benefit of both patients and health professionals.

The debate started with a key note address by Andrzej Rys, Director for Health systems and products at DG SANCO who indicated that eHealth is a priority to help provide high quality and cost-effective healthcare to more people over Europe. He presented the new eHealth Network that will help ensure patient safety and continuity of care across Europe. Co-operation is the key element for a successful eHealth application and the European Commission has, in this spirit, launched the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing.

It was followed by a case studies session which clearly showed how technology can limit hospital stays for patients, and when a hospital stay is necessary, to make it  the least constraining and distressing as possible.

The first case study was based on a new study on patient safety, efficiency and clinical governance produced by ACCA in collaboration with the European Commission in May 2011.

Mark Millar, Chief Executive of the Milton Keynes NHS Foundation Trust and ACCA council member and Debbie Guy, Lead Nurse H@N (Hospital at Night) at the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust presented the results of the study, which describes the benefits of ICT to support improved delivery of clinical service outside core working hours at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

The Nervecentre software with Cisco medical grade network offers both clinical benefits, in improving patient safety and quality of stay, clinical governance, data handover quality and security, as well as financial benefits as it  frees up staff time, helps allocate resource utilization and reduce the length of stay.

Mark Millar said: “Using MAST methodology, the ACCA study has shown that the introduction of collaborative technology at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust has enabled significant improvements to be made to the operation and management of out of hours services.   Senior nurses, who previously spent most of their time on administration, now spend the majority of their shift on the ward providing direct clinical care to patients.  Over the year, this equates to an additional €412,000  or 8,000 hours reinvestment in service delivery.  The workforce management solution also identified opportunities for the better utilization of resources which has resulted in annual cost savings of  €133,000. Further savings of €401,000  are expected from improved discharge procedures which will result in reduced length of stays ." 

 Francesco Bortolan responsible for the ICT services for the Department of Health of the Veneto region then presented a case study on “The Veneto eHealth experience: a platform for integrated care”, through two ambitious projects: Health Optimum and the DOGE project. The first  project  is a telemedicine project aimed to support different specialties (Telelaboratory; telecounselling service for neurosurgeons). The second is a regional project to develop a network of services to share clinical data and documents between different players of the care process (Local Health Authorities, General Practioners, and Paediatricians).

Broader discussions were also held during a lively panel debate led by Dr Parvanova and  featuring Nicola Bedlington,  Director of the European Patients Forum; Paul Timmers, Director ICT addressing societal challenges; DG INFSO; and Petra Wilson, member of the European Governing Council, HIMSS.

Exploring the policy options towards more innovative solutions and more efficient healthcare systems, they settled on some key elements:

          o The potential of eHealth,  if  properly harnessed,  is rich and wide-ranging  but its implementation faces some obstacles, including a lack of compatibility between eHealth systems

          o eHealth innovation will help address challenges facing Europe’s healthcare systems such as demographics, sustainability, and increased demand for quality and access. We need more policy coherence, legal clarity and political will to accelerate efforts to create e-health solutions and inter-operability of technologies and systems across EU countries.

          o There is a clear need for the dissemination of best and good practices and initiatives such  as the ones carried out by the Nottingham University Hospital and in the Veneto Region.

          o Collaboration between both public and private sectors, as well as with the health professionals, the patients and the technology assessment bodies is essential for patient safety, continuity of care across Europe, and for an improved healthcare system


    For further information, please contact:
    Cecile Bonino Public Affairs and Media Relations Officer – EU ACCA

    +32 (0) 2 286 11 37

    +44 (0) 780 95 95 008



    Notes to Editors

       1. The ACCA study on patient safety, efficiency and clinical governance is available here 

       2.  ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) 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.

       3. We support our 140,000 members and 404,000 students in 170 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. We work through a network of over 80 offices and centres and more than 8,000 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through our public interest remit, we promote appropriate regulation of accounting and conduct relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.

       4. Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. We believe that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. Our values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and we ensure that through our qualifications, we prepare accountants for business. We seek to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating our qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers.


    Cecile Bonino
    Public Affairs and Media Relations Officer-EU ACCA
    CBI business house
    14 rue de la Science
    BE-1040 Brussels
    tel:+32 (0) 2 286 11 37
    mob: +44 (0) 7809595008


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