EHTEL Community Position Paper on Digital Health

Throughout 2017, inthe European Union there have been several public consultations on pressing topics around digital health and care. All the key themes are extremely relevant at European, national and regional levels.
EHTEL’s members have focused on three key issues:
  • Citizens’ empowerment and their online access to health and care data

  • Continuity of care and interoperable service implementation

  • Digital transformation management and governance 

The opinions expressed result from members’ own experiences in the field, their lessons learned in European co-financed projects; and work in a series of EHTEL-organised working groups and task forces. These orientations are core elements of EHTEL’s work and members' expertise.

Citizens’ empowerment and online access to health and care data

EHTEL members take the stance that:

  • Appropriate and meaningful support services need to be offered from the systems and services that citizens use.

  • Indeed, meaningfulness is a key-principle.

  • Meaningful support is even more important since citizens will increasingly rely on self-monitoring technologies, on smart messaging services, and on remote monitoring systems.

Emphasis need to be put on:

  • Citizens getting an appropriate education and training; receive the context-related information that they need online. They should be able to manage and enter their own health care data. They should be able to trust the professionals that perform those services and the services themselves.

  • Citizens, especially the elder, may need help and guidance to mature their skills and competences in the different aspects of digital health. These skills must be built up at the level of society.

  • The workforce employed in different services need appropriate raining on the use of digital health tools and services. For this specific reason EHTEL has strongly supported the EU*US eHealth Work project in 2016 and 2017.

Continuity of care and interoperable service implementation

EHTEL members take the view that:

  • The topic of people in ageing societies should be better addressed, in particular through continuity of care and interoperability.

  • Civic society organisations and peoples’ representation need to be involved in the design and implementation of standards and interoperable solutions. The importance of this key success factor has led to EHTEL's support of the PROGRESSIVE project.

  • Care needs to be continuous from the early stages of people's lives to the end of their lives. Therefore, health care services should be systematically connected horizontally and vertically.

  • Activities on developing interoperable solutions from clinical and semantic standpoints need to be better known to civic society.

  • Legacy issues represent critical implementation challenges to address. Legacy exists on the organisational, procedural, and technical levels. As a result, up-to-date technology can fail and it may take extra efforts to connect.

  • Business modelling techniques can help significantly to sustain initiatives that aim at developing interoperable solutions. Hence throughout 2017, EHTEL has worked closely with the ValueHEALTH project.

Digital transformation management and governance

EHTEL members consider that:

  • Believing in the digital transformation of health and social care systems and services is one thing, but stronger efforts are needed to translate that belief into a real committment, and to implement new ways of working to deliver real progress.

  • Good governance and change management strategies are cornerstones to ensure that these changes take place effectively. Tools and methods are instrumental in building capacities, but need to address the specificities of the multidisciplinary environments of health and social care. In this way, actors in the field will contribute to, indeed drive, digital transformation. A key example for involving actors is the SCIROCCO tool for scaling-up integrated care in context.

  • Yet numerous other examples of tools can facilitate a shift from one service readiness level to the next. Many of these shifts should focus on facilitating the expression of the demand side of health and care. Identifying and applying incentives too are key.

Next steps

EHTEL is focusing increasingly on Thought Leadership activities and tasks. Upcoming publications will include opinion pieces, short reports and position papers.

EHTEL Members are keen to exchange knowledge with wider communities at the European and global levels. To get involved in these activities or for additional information contact us.


Scroll down to the resources section and download the EHTEL Community Position Paper on Digital Health.


  • EHTEL Community position paper on digital health in Europe 22 March 2019 PDF*

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