On 10 May 2011, a new EU Task Force on eHealth, whose function is to carry out an assessment of the role of ICT in health and social care and to suggest how ICT can promote innovation in healthcare, met for the first time on the margins of eHealth week in the Hungarian capital.
This high level advisory group comprises healthcare professionals, patients’ representatives, people from the medical, pharmaceutical and ICT industries, legal experts and policy makers.
The EU Task Force will advise the Commission on how to make best use of the potential of eHealth and how to achieve EU-wide interoperability of eHealth services and technologies. It will also explore the relationships between eHealth, telemedicine, and social policy initiatives.
Currently there are still huge differences between Member States in the use of eHealth, whereas services such as access to electronic patient records, telemonitoring and ePrescription are not widely available in hospitals.
While eHealth certainly has many potential benefits, in its response to the European Commission consultation on the eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020 (the Plan will be published by the Commission in the fourth quarter of the year) EPHA is highlighting the main reservations and concerns of implementing eHealth uncritically.
Crucially, eHealth must not lead to further health inequalities, and it should serve as a tool to improve the quality of care and time spent with patients.