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10 February 2011
Thanking MEP Grossetête (EPP, France) and MEP Cabrnoch (ECR, Czech Republic) for their sponsorship of the event, Honorary President Mr. John Bowis opened the reception for the launch of the “E-Quality in E-Health” publication explaining the purpose of the event was to reach out to policymakers both within and beyond the European institutions to do more in the e-Health domain. The Member States particularly, need to undertake more concrete actions in the area of e-Health by putting it further up on their national agendas. He declared that “You cannot have a healthy economy – a competitive economy – without healthy people.”
Examining the benefits of e-Health for the patient, Mr. Bowis suggested that e-Health allows citizens to do more for themselves and to play a greater role in their health and healthcare. He reminded the audience that, “Health is not a burden, it’s a benefit” and policymakers must remember that e-Health gives patients the opportunity to monitor their own health which will inevitably reduce the impact of healthcare Member States budgets.
Mr. Bowis clarified the meaning of e-Health by quoting the contribution of Dr. Andrzej Jan Rys, Public Health and Risk Assessment Director (DG SANCO). He reiterated that e-Health itself includes technologies such as “health information networks, electronic health records, telemedicine services, personal wearable and portable communicable systems, health portals and many other information communication technology-based tool assisting prevention, diagnosis, treatment, health monitoring and lifestyle management.” Mr. Bowis asserted that all of these technologies can assist in providing the patient better care, if the technologies are accessible and patients are still supported by mechanisms within healthcare systems.
Building on Mr. Bowis’s remarks, Patron David Byrne highlighted the timeliness of the e-Health publication stating, “The purpose of this entire exercise is not to develop technology, but rather to provide healthcare to the patient. It’s a patient-centred activity.” He demanded that Member States set benchmarks of access to e-Health and to examine the extent to which there may be reimbursements to patients who purchase the technologies encompassed within e-Health. Mr. Byrne definitively stated, “We don’t want this to be something that just is available for those who can afford it. That’s why this document is entitled ‘E-Quality in E-Health.’”
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Byrne called on Member States to chart the increase of access for patients to e-Health as such an undertaking is “what the European Commission does well - it’s what the European Commission can provide.” He also urged the European Commission to push Member States forward by not being too timid in terms of its competencies in the health area. He considered that if the Commission pressures Member States, “We can get a better outcome which harnesses technology for the betterment of the patient.”
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