Europe is facing a major challenge to the sustainability and quality of health care delivery as a result of demographic change and the improvement of quality of medical services. Public spending on health care has increased in recent decades in all Member States, and is likely to further increase as a consequence of the population. In 2015, it accounted for 8.7% of EU GDP and could reach up to 12.6% of GDP in 2060, according to the European Commission Joint Report on health and long term care care and sustainability systems tax.
The European Commission has set up a Task Force, which brings together the technology and health policy to make health systems able to cope with the changes and improve health provision in the future.
The Commission concluded that the future capacity of Member States to provide high quality care for all will depend on making health systems more resilient, better able to meet the challenges that lie ahead. They must accomplish this while remaining a service accessible to all.
Digital technology can improve health provision and care by helping to innovate hear where we provide and receive health and care services, enabling citizens to live longer and with a better quality of life.
Digital technology will redefine health and care
Digital technologies such as mobile communication 4G / 5G, artificial intelligence or super computing, offer new opportunities to transform health systems. These means enable new approaches to personalized medicine, integration with social care, accelerating scientific progress, early detection of disease and more effective treatments.
Technological innovations and their implementation on a large scale bring with them changes in the provision of services and redefine healthcare. The disruptive change is a key factor for the future according to the group of experts of the Commission on effective ways of investing in health. But the group of experts pointed out that disruptive innovation must also respect the values of universality, equity and solidarity while delivering high quality, effective and safe health services.
But what does this transformation for each of us in our daily lives?
Scientific advances translate into better outcomes for people
The personalized medicine conducted through analysis of the data will bring benefits to all citizens being able to provide support that will allow you to manage the disease in a better way. In fact, having as the support of health data analysis can be safely administered more effective drug therapies, with minor adverse effects and able to guarantee a better quality of life.
Supercomputing (also called High Performance Computing) already provides for the early detection of cancer in a simple, fast and accurate. In some cases, early detection is now possible in a few hours, while only 10 years ago, it would have taken days or weeks, and in other cases it would be virtually impossible. The analysis of data enabled by supercomputing allow early diagnosis of genetic diseases that will lead to more timely treatment.
Innovation allows the "people-powered"
The digitization of health services and care can also improve the patient experience. ICPNN, a digital integrated service program authorized in the Netherlands, provides health support and care integrated community for adults over 75 living at home. It allows citizens to stay in their community as long as possible and at the same time to have access to their care process. In a period of two years, this program has led to a decrease of between 37% and 47% in consultations on aging issues related to chronic conditions, and an equivalent increase in the perceived sense of well-being on the part of the elderly population.
The large-scale distribution makes health and more sustainable care systems
Too often the fruits of innovation are not exploited or there are unnecessary delays. Therefore, the implementation and practical implementation in the health sector and public health is a necessity. The Commission is working with Member States to engage in the exchange of e-prescriptions over borders in 2018. Cross-border Telemedicine is a cornerstone of European Reference Networks that will connect about 1,000 clinics in Europe to diagnose and treat complex diseases and rare. Both systems are supported by the Connecting Europe Facility and the requirements of the exchange system is based on a successful project CIP epSOS.
The Horizon H2020 program, however, contributes in the field of digital technology for health and aging. In this context, the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing provides a platform to link the efforts of many regions and ecosystems across Europe, some of which are recognized as reference sites on digital innovation health and care.
Pooling resources to create a bridge between "digital" and "health"
The Joint Commission and the OECD report "Health at a Glance: Europe 2016," noted that the improvement in the adoption of digital technology in both primary and hospital care is needed across Europe. Many governments from Estonia to Portugal have already taken active eHealth policies.
The need for EU cooperation in this area is now more important and urgent than ever. Just imagine for a moment if we were to pool EU resources to accelerate research in genetics or cancer treatment. Or, if you could develop a fairly "flexible" system to ensure that the complete patient records can be exchanged, and that patients can get treatment even beyond the borders, if necessary.
This ambition is the driving force of the new Task Force which will work to develop concrete proposals for harnessing the potential of information and technology in order to provide better health and care in Europe. It will examine the incentives and obstacles to pursue the safe exchange of medical data across the EU.
The Task Force will also seek to define new actions to strengthen the pan-EU co-operation networks that can contribute to the acceleration of genetic research and maximize the potential of supercomputing applications to analyze health data, reducing the lead-time for the introduction new treatments or enable more personalized healthcare.
This Task Force is the first step of a long journey.