'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,' said the German State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Klaus Theo Schröder.
'We want to give patients access to their medical records and patient summaries from everywhere within the EU. This not only serves the continuity of care but also affords safety in an emergency,' he explained.
The declaration was adopted at the 2007 eHealth Conference whose theme 'From strategies to applications' looked at the implementation of electronic health-service applications and infrastructures such as electronic prescriptions and electronic patient files, as well as future services available thanks to the electronic health card.
The signature countries share the view that national e-health infrastructures are a prerequisite for the development of European cross-border electronic health services. So, national e-health road maps should be taken into account when planning the content-wide infrastructures.
The declaration also emphasises the need for more synergies between research and education and calls for a deployment strategy of new innovative e-health services.
The document also recommends that Member States work on common European standards together with the e-health industry to enable interoperability but also to open up new market opportunities in the field.
The declaration then proposes that the European Commission launch large-scale pilot projects to test European co-operation in the application of improved patient summaries in different health contexts, such as medical emergencies or the dispensing of prescriptions.
'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,' said Franz de Bruine from the Commission's Information Society and Media DG.
'The co-operation on e-health services will help build a European health information space for the benefit of Europe's citizens,' he added.
The increased mobility of European citizens has brought the need for quality medical care to follow patients beyond their national and regional borders and health systems. Therefore, modernised European health systems with e-health components are needed.
The EU eHealth Action Plan published in 2004 seeks to boost the creation of national e-health infrastructure systems, electronic health records and patient summaries and to ensure their interoperability.
Virginia Mercouri | alfa
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