Together for Health: a strategy for the Europe 2020
As we, the many stakeholders at regional and local level, work with the European Commission to help realise their health strategy Together for Health – a Strategy for the Europe 2020, I want to focus this post on some key challenges and opportunities arising from the availability and access to structural funds used in eHealth.
The structural funds represent a key resource for new EU member states and could leverage the national investment in eHealth, eLearning, eGovernment and eEnvironment areas. These funds, if used efficiently, could diminish the development gap among old and new EU members and favour a strong and sustainable EU economy.
In fact I presented this back in the summer at the Commission’s own health forum
, on behalf of Cocir
, the European Radiological, Electromedical and Healthcare IT Industry. The EU Health Strategy
aims to deliver concrete results in improving health. As set out in the Lisbon Treaty, the EU has a unique role to improve and protect health and in addition to facilitate cooperation on health. Given member states' responsibilities in health at national, regional and local levels, and the need to respect subsidiarity, all stakeholders must be closely involved in the implementation of the strategy. To that end, health in all policies is also about involving new partners in health policy. The European Commission will develop partnerships to promote the goals of the strategy, including with NGOs, industry, academia and the media.
In addition, the on-going process within the Europe 2020 strategy
demonstrates the importance of health in all policies: EU citizens must be key partners in constructing the strategy and are able to play a key role in delivering the objectives which were laid down.
So, I was delighted to stress again the main advantages and the main difficulties that the industry is facing in applying for tenders based on structural funds. Many of them are related to the lack of support for local and national authorities to prepare tenders, others are related to the lack of transparency and local bias towards preferred providers or due to the inherent complexity of the eHealth implementations. These implementations are not effecting only technology but also training human resources, managing change management and developing visionary business models.
The main problems that the industry is facing are:
As a synthetic view, the COCIR recommendations are:
- Integrated approach needed from EC (coordination and coherence between DG SANCO, DG Digital Agenda, DG REGIO and MSs);
- Continue to invest in health projects, recognizing increasing demand of chronic disease and ageing;
- Pay particular attention to training and education of health providers/users and change management programs;
- Increase transparency of public tender (translate national tenders and submit them to public consultation on EU portal);
- Facilitate access to public tenders (foresee budget for building tenders and reduce the part of co-financing for the Member States);
- Control the time to pre-financing (limiting the time to 45 days);
- Provide functional specifications in Health tenders and quality criteria by type of tender (e.g. infrastructure, EHR, ePrescribing);
- Avoid national/regional detailed technical tenders that risk being obsolete due to the pace of innovation in technology and could favour specific providers;
- Increase EU scrutiny of major implementations;
- Simplify the application process for eligible beneficiaries.
We look forward to working with the European Commission on the applications of these recommendations in order to speed up the implementation of successful and proven eHealth applications in countries supported by structural funds.
Reports & supporting material from the Commission’s EU Open Health Forum 2010 event: