10th Anniversary Briefing Paper: Reflections on a Decade of eHealth - the second stage in Healthcare Transformation
The past decade has been the witness of quite noticeable changes of health care by Health ICT. Nowadays, eHealth symbolises the modernisation of healthcare in support of quality of care, empowerment of patients, higher efficiency and also increased health professional job satisfaction. This has not happened by itself, rather a synergy of strategic plans, political commitments and technical developments was needed.
Founded in 1999, EHTEL, the European Health Telematics Association has been an integral part and often a moderator of these achievements. Today - based on its multistakeholder membership - EHTEL provides an important platform to reflect the current situation and to look ahead into the future. For the occasion of the 10th Anniversary, the Board of Directors of the association has reviewed progress made over the last two decades and the prognoses for the coming one. The new Briefing Paper summarises the results of these analyses: The report broadens the perspective beyond the "Decade for eHealth" (1999 - 2009) to cover early developments of ICT within healthcare, todays eHealth successes and failures, and a view forward for the next decade of seamless integrated Health.
The EHTEL 10th Anniversary Briefing Paper traverses three stages of eHealth (discovery, acceptance and deployment) which will be eventually followed by a 4th stage when IT is an integral day-to-day part of the deli-very, management and the benefits from care and the "e" will disappear:
- The main achievement of the stage of discovery (1989-1999) was to enable an expert community across the European Union committed to work together, to exchange information and to initiate innovation.
- The stage of acceptance (1999-2009) began with the recognition that the design and implementation of new services were not going to happen by osmosis, just because of the enthusiasm of the eHealth community. The key progress included the increasing understanding of the impor-tance and value of eHealth by most of the stakeholders.
- The stage of deployment (2009 - 2019) will be a challenge for healthcare. Cost will remain a primary concern as EU Member States will have to cope with the ever rising cost of healthcare. The financial crisis may offer opportunities of extra investments in eHealth e.g. by government programmes.
- From 2019 on the full integration of eHealth into healthcare is expected. Then "eHealth will move beyond the "e", i.e. digital healthcare will be just "healthcare".