The EU Health Council's conclusions on the use of e-health systems to deliver healthcare have called for work to solve technical problems, protect health data and facilitate market development.
These conclusions followed the EU member states' declaration that e-health has the potential to bring about a safer and more efficient health sector.
E-health comprises telecare (the use of wireless technologies to promote the safety of vulnerable people) and telehealth (the use of wireless technology for the remote monitoring of medical conditions).
The Council recognised "the need for further political leadership and to integrate e-health into health policy in order to develop e-health services on the basis of public health needs."
It called on the EU member states to develop initiatives for the deployment and use of e-health services - and in particular, to:
• commit strategically to e-health as one of the main ways to enhance quality, access and safety in healthcare
• build confidence in and acceptance of e-health services
• bring legal clarity and ensure protection of health data
• solve technical issues and facilitate market development.
The Council asked the European Commission to organise an evaluation of the health benefits and cost-effectiveness of different e-health services, building on knowledge accumulated at EU and national levels.
Furthermore, the Council called on the member states and the Commission to:
• collaborate on a governance model to co-ordinate member state actions to promote e-health
• address common issues and challenges in bringing forward e-health services
• develop a road map with decision support and guidelines for deployment, acceptance and use of e-health services
• work with patients and health professionals to ensure that e-health tools and services reflect clinical needs and health system objectives.