Brussels (B), 14 February 2007
Twenty-five regions from all over Europe gathered today in Brussels to launch a major initiative, which is set to revolutionise the way our health care systems are managed.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER) has launched the ‘e-Health network’, which will bring medical services closer to the citizens, ending up their isolation, especially in remote rural areas. Here are only a few practical examples of what the network wants to achieve:
– citizens will be able to have all their medical examinations carried out at their local clinic, instead of travelling to far away specialized centres. Specialists working in another clinic will check the patients through a remote controlled device;
– as a consequence, medical diagnoses will only be a few clicks away: the doctor receives the examination results through the web and can immediately make the diagnosis;
– the work of emergency services, especially ambulance crews, will be immensely facilitated: ICT tools can provide them with all the necessary information on the patient they’re rushing to assist, by giving access to his/her personal dossier and all the data about previous health problems. The ambulance can then send information to the hospital, so that the emergency unit there is prepared to treat the patient as soon as it arrives;
– EU tourists travelling to another country in the Union will be able to consult a local doctor through a European ‘e-Health card’. That’s more than a pocket document: it contains the patient’s entire dossier in a microchip. Any diagnosis or treatment will thus be carried out on the basis of a full medical picture.
Apart from that, e-Health can prove a useful tool for better distributing the scarce resources that are usually allocated to health services, by increasing productivity and improving the flow of information among all the actors in the health care chain.
European regions belonging to the AER will take the lead in applying new technologies to health care, by creating a platform where all the interested parties can engage in interregional cooperation projects and develop e-Health tools, thus contributing to the development of this innovative sector.
Six regions are already at the forefront:
Friuli Venezia Giulia and Lombardia (Italy) have today proposed the development of an ICT tool, which can provide them a real-time picture of the current offer and needs in their healthcare and social systems and allocate their resources accordingly;
St. Gallen (Switzerland) wants to create a tool, allowing secure electronic Data interchange among health professionals, hospitals and physicians;
Norrbotten (Sweden) is planning to create an electronic platform, which will put patients’ health data at the disposal of all the local health professionals. The same region is also looking to produce a telemedicine tool for medical professionals in the field of heart diseases: as a practical consequence, tests and examinations will be carried out from a distance;
Noord-Brabant (The Netherlands) proposed the development of ICT tools for the early diagnosis of dementia, in order to allow people suffering from it to live at home longer;
Västerbotten (Sweden), with the help of the local Umeå University, will analyse the potential advantages that e-Health technologies can offer to old people, with respect to their mental and physical health.
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