Health care is one of the most important social priorities, but it can also benefit from the use of innovative digital technologies. The European Union understands this and will promote the use of eHealth over the coming decade.
The new digital technologies have become part of every aspect of daily life. And there’s no question that they’re here to stay. The advances that they can generate in an enormous range of fields are also enormous. One of the areas that can benefit the most is health care, with the improvements in the disciplines known as eHealth and mHealth.
The European Union also sees it this way, and some time ago launched a programme to encourage the use of digital tools and services in the area of medicine. eHealth serves as a crossroads between between patients, health care professionals and suppliers, and the digitisation of health records, advances in telemedicine and portable health care systems are just a few examples of its potential successes.
Just a few days ago, the European Parliament gave its support to the EC initiative to promote eHealth. Neelie Kroes was satisfied with the vote, which also represents the starting point for the organisation of certain international standards that will oversee the protection of health in Europe.
In addition to the important benefits for patients and health care professionals that are generated by eHealth, the new digital technologies applied to the area of health care are also sparking strong economic interest.
Based on this, the European Digital Agenda was already considering three specific actions related to eHealth. In economic terms, the telemedicine market alone grew from 9.8 billion dollars in 2010 to 11.6 billion dollars in 2011.
This increase, along with the strong economic investment that is being focused on the area of health care, has forced the European Union to adapt to the changes that inevitably result from the use of digital technologies in daily life, and especially in the area of health and medicine.
The backing that the European Parliament has given now guarantees that in the not-so-distant future, the technological advances in telemedicine, the interoperability of health care systems and patient access to their medical records could become a reality.