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EHTEL Symposium 2018

Empowered Partners in Health through User-Driven Digitisation

Many members of the European Digital Health community met at the 9th annual EHTEL Symposium. Conversations were anchored on the well-being of European societies.

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The Symposium provided attendees with insights into how user-driven digitisation delivers benefits and empowers all health-related stakeholders. The Symposium covered the three priority pillars set out by the European Commission in its 2018 Communication on digital transformation, including patients’ access, personalised medicine, and digital interaction. 

Monday - Tuesday, 3-4 December 2018

Symposium Plenaries and Debates

Over the first two days, participants explored how user-driven digitisation – enabled by all those working to innovate in technologies and services – delivers benefits to empower:

  • Consumers and patients: through smart tools enabling health promotion and prevention linked to information – including health records – and resources in health and social care.
  • Health care managers and providers: for next-generation care planning, integrating individual patient data, and big data using a population health approach.
  • The health workforce: so that tasks gain from the use of carefully designed and adjusted digital tools, and employees are trained to use their digital skills to create meaningful documentation and workflows.
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Setting the Scene: Citizens/Patients and Health Policy View

Three invited speakers, speaking on behalf of different sets of stakeholders - patients, health and care providers, and civic society - introduced the event. Each offered a stakeholder voice with regard to "user driven digitisation". A strong message from each speaker related to the need to listen to people and to pay careful attention to their needs and desires in relation to digitisation.

From Lightweight Wellness Apps to Managing Serious Conditions

This second session permitted attendees to learn about health-related apps. The apps covered the state-of-the-art in wellness and patient-centric apps, health games for prevention, and support for people with chronic health conditions. The session featured:
  • the results of a regularly organised patient survey,
  • the outcomes of the Games for Health Europe Conference series
  • the use of apps by a specific, Israeli-based, health-provider,
  • and the outcomes of a four-year European project, MyCyFAPP on cystic fibrosis.
Each presentation benefitted from a short round of question-and-answer. The session ended with a brief discussion that originated from commentary provided by a representative of the European Consumer Organisation. Current dangers are seen as being the insufficient quality of apps brought onto the market and the fragmented evaluation methods on the accuracy of measurements or medical dosages. Here the focus was on certification for apps and useful certification schemes.

Creating Value from Well-Being Data: Enabling Care Innovations

This session explored the huge potential for secondary use of well-being data and health care data for research, development, innovations, and management, with the aim of creating better health perspectives for patients and societies.  Mining such data provides new opportunities on the health policy level as well as care options for individual patients. The session was chaired by Dr Hannu Hämäläinen, Senior Adviser at SITRA, Finland, who introduced the topic of data as an enabler for care innovations. 

EU Vision for Better Medicine and Health Gains with Digitisation

The European Policy Agenda for Digital Health and Care is about to move into the next decade, 2020-2030. This work will be supported by funding and mechanisms embedded in the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework. Four specific questions addressed during this plenary session that opened the second day of the Symposium included:
  • What are the visions and envisaged benefits of the proposed new policy framework? 
  • How will it materialise for all Europeans?
  • What lessons  are being learned in Member States?
  • How can state-of-the-art service-oriented health IT infrastructures be implemented?
Policy-oriented officials from a Member State, the Czech Republic, and the European Commission offered lots of insights during the session. They reflected on what a Member State can do to move its digital health agenda forward, and in what directions Europe may move in the future.

Data and Well-Being in Practice: Co-Creating for Patients’ Benefit

This session involved co-creating a set of six scenarios related to how patients will benefit from the sharing of data in the health and care fields in the future.
It provided an interesting bridge to the presentations later in the day and also the match-making session, which took place on the following day.

Making Digital Healthcare Meaningful: Role of the Health Work Force

Contributors to the EU*US eHealth Work project and workforce representatives focused the debate on how best to integrate health-specific digital technologies into the education of health professionals. They also explored how to teach digital natives now entering the health workplace.

A number of good practice educational case studies were outlined. The kinds of digital skills needed were discussed. Medical students talked about their digital skills’ education: here, two student members of the European Medical Students Association ran through the results of a recent survey: several international/global needs and gaps were identified.

Last but not least, a panel of presenters debated the subject of Education towards Digital Healthcare – a Building Block for Future Patient Safety.

Living Labs for Digitisation in Healthcare

This session focused on learning about how living labs support digitisation for health and care. Four examples of co-design were offered from Belgium, Finland, Scotland, and Spain.
The speakers showed how both the demand and supply sides of digital transformation can be brought together in co-creative ways.
Attendees learned how living labs support the digitisation of health and care, and how demand and supply sides can be brought together in co-creative ways.

Looking ahead: Leveraging Synergies of Machine Learning and Digitisation

Three insights were offered from industry, large hospital, and a medical cluster. They focused on what Artificial Intelligence is promising and what options arise for meaningful new services.
AI as a Game Changer: Patients', Professionals' and Provider Views: This interactive debate covered the existing achievements of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and how they can be integrated into daily medical practice:
  • What will we see in the next years?
  • Is it realistic that young doctors should stop investing into becoming specialists in fields like radiology?
  • Or will we just see a gradual change in tasks that health IT can deliver?
The discussion was chaired by Lester Russell of IBM's offices in United Kingdom.

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Interactive Session - Matchmaking around Conditions for Successful Deployment

A spinoff workshop to the EHTEL Symposium was hosted at the EU Office of the Italian Region of Campania. This matchmaking event was organised by EHTEL and the Reference Site Coordination Network in collaboration with the WE4AHA and SCIROCCO projects. It was geared to health care managers who are modernising their health care system.
The workshop focused on people’s digital health needs, good practices in example regions, and the support offered by the SCIROCCO Self-assessment Tool, based on the SCIROCCO Maturity Model.
The workshop covered three main themes:

Personas: modelling citizens’ and patients’ needs for digital services

The personas covered people throughout the life-course, with varied health, care and social conditions and living in different socio-economic and geographic settings. Understanding the personas led to the next step in designing a set of user scenarios.

Field experiences in deploying digital services

Three Reference Sites from Andalucía (Spain), Puglia (Italy), and Turkey used the SCIROCCO Tool to assess systems and services in their local settings. Attendees were introduced to examples of digital services deployed in the field and at scale.

Conditions for successful deployments at scale: using the SCIROCCO Self-assessment Tool

Attendees explored specific dimensions of the SCIROCCO Tool: evaluation methods, information and eHealth services, innovation management, population approach, removal of inhibitors, standardisation and simplification, and structure and governance.
Thirty people from 18 countries attended the event and worked in groups to investigate exciting new experiences of integrated care. Attendees benefitted from a mutual exchange of knowledge. They spotted some good opportunities to partner with others on integrated care-related activities. Many participants were keen to explore how health and social care data and records can be shared.


For related information on the tools used and useful background, see:

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Scroll down to find and download some of the many resources made available to all EHTEL Symposium's participants.

Visit also the event photo galeries in the Media section.


  • Agenda - EHTEL Symposium 2018 6 December 2018 PDF*
  • Report - EHTEL Symposium 2018 - 3-4 December 4 April 2019 EHTEL DOCX*
  • Matchmaking event - EHTEL Symposium 2018 - 5 December 12 March 2019 EHTEL PDF*
  • Presentation - Mining Well-being Data for Better Care (Saara Malkamaki - Sitra) 4 December 2018 PDF*
  • Presentation - Enabling Secondary Data use (Hannu Hamalainen - Sitra) 5 December 2018 PDF*
  • Presentation - Ioana-Maria-Gligor and Ceri Thompson (European Commission) 5 December 2018 PDF*

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