German Council Presidency gives fresh impetus to co-operation on cross-border electronic health services

Berlin 19 April 2007At the 2007 eHealth Conference, representatives of European Union Member States and members of the European Economic Area adopted a common Declaration. The representatives agreed to pursue close interaction and collaboration in the area of cross-border electronic health services throughout Europe. This year's eHealth Conference had "From Strategies to Applications" as its guiding theme, thus focusing on the implementation of electronic health service applications and infrastructures.

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"The co-operation on e-health services will help build a European health information space for the benefit of Europe's citizens", stated Frans de Bruïne, Director, European Commission, Directorate-General Information Society and Media. Electronic health services include applications such as electronic prescriptions, electronic patient summaries or electronic health cards.

Dr. Klaus Theo Schröder, State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Health, declared: "By adopting today's Declaration, we seek to ensure that, in the future, electronic health services for Europe's citizens do not stop at national borders. We want to give patients access to their medication records and patient summaries from everywhere within the European Union. This not only serves the continuity of care but also affords safety in an emergency."

An understanding was reached on the key issues:

  1. National well-organised eHealth infrastructures are pre-requisite for cross-border solutions
  2. European standardisation will open up market opportunities
  3. Existing National roadmaps must be taken into account
  4. Implementation of eHealth services require greater synergies with research and education
  5. Agreement on common standards by all European Union Member States is essential
  6. The eHealth industry and other stakeholders must be involved

The Declaration identifies the next steps required for European co-operation, in the shape of Large Scale Pilots to test the application of improved patient summaries in different health contexts such as medical emergencies or prescription dispensing.

Frans de Bruïne remarked: "The 2007 eHealth Conference has deepened the co-operation among the Member States and all stakeholders. The Commission welcomes the Declaration on European co-operation in the field of Europe-wide electronic health services. The European Commission is supporting the first steps towards their concrete implementation by means of Large Scale Pilots."

Dorjan Marusic, State Secretary at the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Slovenia, added: "We now have the opportunity to further the main theme of the German European Union Presidency Europe - succeeding together and make it tangible on the ground in our citizens' everyday life. We intend to continue the initiative of Germany's Council Presidency. Our national activities provide a sound basis for achieving this aim."

The full Declaration can be accessed at the website of the European Union.


Leslie Versweyveld

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