Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Merry Christmas and good health to all!

2012, which soon comes to an end, fills us with memories of a period of hardship due to the financial crisis and its consequences, but also of a year full of new projects and new partnerships offering an optimistic view for the future.

We are looking forward to a new productive year, wishing you all Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a happy, peaceful and creative 2013!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

European Hospital and Community Pharmacists issue joint statement on future pharmacist roles

The two organisations representing community and hospital pharmacists in Europe have come together to make a declaration on the development of the pharmacy profession.
The joint statement by the Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union (PGEU) and the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP) represents a call to action to national governments to, firstly, enable pharmacists to increase their role in optimising patient use of medicines, and, secondly, to improve the systems supporting multi-professional care across Europe.
EAHP and PGEU believe that pharmacists, as experts in medicines, should be at the heart of national strategies to ensure best outcomes for patients. This includes pharmacists educating patients about the optimal use of their medicines, and helping to ensure that potential polypharmacy problems, which can arise when a patient takes multiple medications, are satisfactorily resolved and reconciled.
The development of these roles for pharmacists is especially relevant in view of Europe’s ageing population, combined with the pressures on public spending that are likely for the foreseeable future. In this sense, it has never been more important to ensure national spending on medicines achieves intended outcomes in a cost-effective manner.

Pharmacists, in both community and hospital settings, are uniquely placed to facilitate this, so long as health policy makers recognise the opportunity and make the necessary commitments to its achievement.

Finally, the joint statement also highlights the need for multi-professional approaches to healthcare delivery to ensure integrated and seamless patient care. This includes improving systems for communication between health sectors when a patient transfers between hospital and community (and vice-versa), especially in relation to situations where changes are made to a patient’s medication.
PGEU and EAHP call for commitment from Governments to achieving multi-professional care, and for the integration of the multi-professional team concept within health professional education curriculums.

Speaking on the publication of the statement, Dr. Roberto Frontini, EAHP President said:

“The joint statement by EAHP and PGEU represents our shared goals in maximising the benefits the health service derives from pharmacists’ expertise in medicines. More than ever before decision makers in the health sector must ask and answer important questions about improving value and the outcomes achieved for patients. The pharmacist’s positive role in ensuring optimal use of medicines by patients is therefore a central consideration to successfully meeting the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

Ms Isabelle Adenot, PGEU President said:

“While patients receive primary care as well as hospital-based care, European pharmacists practice in both settings and share the challenge of improving the rational use of medicines. Having a common roadmap can help them to progress. This is the purpose of our joint statement.”

Statement here.


Saturday, December 08, 2012

Putting patients in the driving seat: A digital future for healthcare

The European Commission has unveiled an Action Plan to address barriers to the full use of digital solutions in Europe's healthcare systems. The goal is to improve healthcare for the benefit of patients, give patients more control of their care and bring down costs. While patients and health professionals are enthusiastically using telehealth solutions and millions of Europeans have downloaded smartphone apps to keep track of their health and wellbeing, digital healthcare has yet to reap its great potential to improve healthcare and generate efficiency savings.
The Action Plan (full list of actions in MEMO/12/959) attempts to increase the pace of change and improvement in healthcare by:
  • clarifying areas of legal uncertainty;
  • improving interoperability between systems;
  • increasing awareness and skills among patients and healthcare professionals; 
  • putting patients at the centre with initiatives related to personal health management and supporting research into personalised medicine; 
  • ensuring free legal advice for start-up eHealth businesses. 
The Commission also commits to issue a mHealth (Mobile Health) Green Paper by 2014 addressing quality and transparency issues.
An accompanying Staff Working Paper gives a legal overview of how current EU legislation applies to cross border telemedicine (services such as teleradiology, teleconsultation or telemonitoring). Currently, telemedicine falls within the scope of several legal instruments. The paper clarifies the issues a healthcare practitioner faces in delivering cross-border telemedicine, for example:
  • Do they need to be licensed/registered in the Member State of the patient?
  • How should health data be processed? Will a given service be reimbursable? 
  • What is the liability regime applicable in case of legal action? 
Neelie Kroes, Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda, said "Europe's healthcare systems aren't yet broken, but the cracks are beginning to show. It's time to give this 20th Century model a health check. The new European eHealth Action Plan sets out how we can bring digital benefits to healthcare, and lift the barriers to smarter, safer, patient-centred health services."
Tonio Borg, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, said: "eHealth solutions can deliver high quality, patient-centric, healthcare to our citizens. eHealth brings healthcare closer to people and improves health systems' efficiency. Today's Action Plan will help turn the eHealth potential into better care for our citizens. The eHealth Network under the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive channels our joint commitment to find interoperable solutions at EU level."
Members of the new eHealth Network, established by the Cross-border Healthcare Directive will help implement the Action Plan and provide a direct link to the national healthcare authorities and government departments.
The new eHealth Action Plan responds to the 2009 request of Member States. To prepare the new plan, the Commission ran a public consultation in 2011.
The Digital Agenda for Europe includes three specific actions on eHealth aimed at widespread deployment of telemedicine, patients' access to their health data and interoperability.
Despite the economic crisis, the global telemedicine market grew from $9.8 billion in 2010 to $11.6 billion in 2011, while the global mHealth market is set to grow to €17.5 billion a year by 2017.
Some EU governments are spending up to 15% of their budgets on healthcare.
These facts indicate fast-changing situation that the eHealth Action plan must be flexible enough to address.
The European Commission has been active in eHealth for over a decade. Past Commission actions include:
  • 2004 first eHealth action plan.
  • 2008 Commission Communication on telemedicine.
  • 2008 Large scale pilot Renewing Health, which is measuring the efficiency and cost effectiveness of telemedicine services across 9 regions of Europe.
  • 2008 Recommendation on interoperable Electronic Health Records.
  • 2011 adoption of the first EU law with provisions on the inter-operability of eHealth, the Directive on Patients' rights in cross border healthcare.
  • 2011 epSOS Large Scale pilot has brought together 23 countries to pilot cross-border patient summaries and ePrescription services across Europe.
  • 2011 European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIPAHA) which builds on 261 commitments from over 3000 EIP AHA stakeholders to improve the quality of life of four million European senior citizens between now and 2015. The commitments include the roll out of integrated care and chronic disease management using innovative telemonitoring solutions.
  • 2012 Launch of the eHealth Network bringing together all EU Member States to work on guidelines for the interoperability of eHealth.
For more information
EHealth action plan 2012-2020: Frequently Asked Questions (MEMO/12/959)
Commissioner Neelie Kroes:
Commissioner Tonio Borg:
eHealth Action Plan and Staff Working document, Staff Working Paper on Telemedicine: