Making Healthcare Systems More Sustainable Through Integrated Care – Brief Outcome from COCIR Successful eHealth Summit

BRUSSELS – 5 February 2016 – The second annual COCIR eHealth Summit took place last week in Brussels, Belgium, in cooperation with the European Commission and in partnership with European Hospital and Healthcare Foundation (HOPE) and the European Patients Forum (EPF).  This year high level speakers and participants shared their insights on integrated care as a response to some of the most pressing challenges currently faced by healthcare systems.  The audience and speakers came from various stakeholders, including high level representation from European Commission, European Parliament and State Secretaries of various EU countries, national and regional policy-makers, scientific societies and healthcare professionals, civil society, industry and prestigious international organizations.

During the Summit speakers shared their experience on integrated care around Europe and beyond. Discussions focused on how to break down the silos and deliver more holistic, responsive care to a constantly growing ageing population. The European Commission communicated on the importance of integrated care and bringing the health and social care ecosystems together. But it was acknowledged that, in order to succeed, there is a need for deeper patient and informal carers engagement. This shift to more integrated care will require overcoming regulatory, and organisational barriers, systems’ re-designed and developing new payment models, but, most importantly it will require a significant cultural change and a new mind-set. As Clemens-Martin Auer, Chair of the EU eHealth Network, explained “Integrated Care is not just about changing policies but also integrating people and changing culture, which is still a challenge today”.

Scaling up digital innovation across health systems to enable care coordination was also discussed at large during the summit. In this sense participants highlighted the importance of meeting users’ demands, develop business models to make it sustainable and measure the value of technology in terms of cost-effectiveness and better health outcomes, including patient reported outcomes and patient experience.  In this regard, European Commission, pointed out that evaluation methodologies for digital health, as well as regulatory decision-making processes, were not keeping up with the disruption of eHealth innovations.

Finally, participants stressed the need to build trust among the different stakeholders and exchanged their views about the implications of the new General Data Protection Regulation for the development of digital health. Roberto Viola, Director General at European Commission, DG Connect, called for a data-centric society and highlighted the importance of the health sector, as part of the Digital Single Market strategy, to show the benefits of technological innovation.

In the context of the Summit, a closed door lunch was steered with senior representatives of our industries together with representatives of Member States and other stakeholders and partners with introductory remarks on what are the critical factors of innovation to support healthcare transformation and growth from Andrzej Rys, Director for Health Systems, medical Products and Innovation, from European Commission (DG SANTE).

In addition, we partnered with EFPIA during a closed door dinner discussing on the potential of big data for healthcare and research in Europe steered by Paul Timmers, Director of the Sustainable & Secure Society Directorate in the European Commission (DG CONNECT) and with participation of EPHA sharing the perspective of the civil society on Big Data risks and benefits. 

Nicole Denjoy, COCIR Secretary General, confirmed, “COCIR was delighted with our second annual eHealth Summit – the broad variety of high level speakers and participants who, in an interactive and friendly manner provided valuable insight on the challenges facing healthcare systems and the positive role digital solutions can play.  COCIR looks forward to continue working with its members and partners and moving forward together with other key stakeholders on innovative solutions to overcome barriers. A concerted action to act together now towards Integrated Care will be further communicated soon.”