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European Society of Cardiology

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MEP Heart Group Discusses E-Health Benefits

The MEP Heart Group met recently in Brussels with an agenda focused on e-health. ‘At the Heart of Innovation: E-Health under Scrutiny’ gave Members of European Parliament (MEPs) the opportunity to learn from experts how e-health technologies are being applied in cardiology.

Co-chaired by Linda McAvan MEP (S&D, UK) and Dirk Sterckx MEP (ALDE, BE), the meeting focused on telecardiology, in particular the reduction of hospitalisations and promotion of rapid diagnosis and treatment some associate with it.

In her presentation, Maria Iglesia-Gomez of the European Commission (EC) emphasised that e-health is a key component of the innovation plan at the centre of the EC’s Europe 2020 strategy to meet the needs of its ageing population. Professor Martin Cowie of the UK’s Royal Brompton Hospital presented a summary of successful telecardiology projects, asserting that e-health offers enormous benefits to both patients and cardiologists.

“We have certainly seen a number of really interesting developments that emphasise its value as an integral part of treatment strategies”, he notes. “Remote monitoring can empower patients to self-care much more effectively, and reassures them that they have daily access to expertise from their own homes that can help them live longer and better lives”.

Commenting before the meeting, Sterckx and McAvan said, “We estimate that cardiovascular disease in Europe costs our healthcare systems a staggering €200 billion per year. Because the impact of the ageing population can only increase this, we have to find innovative, sustainable and cost-effective solutions to the treatment of such conditions. E-Health offers great potential to do so, and this is the reason why the MEP Heart Group is gathering evidence from experts at its meeting today”.

“E-Health will only happen when adequate investment is made available, yet we are living in an era of reduced spend on healthcare,” said Dr Friedrich Köhler, Professor of Telemedicine at Charité-Universitâtsmedizin in Berlin. “Successful delivery of E-Health needs an extensive – and expensive – broadband network characterised by high security and resilience. We must also establish EU-wide training for healthcare professionals, correctly manage patient expectations, ensure data protection and confidentiality, and quickly introduce new processes for procurement and standards”.

The MEP Heart Group emphasised the need for funding to continue research into studies of the long-term benefits of e-health, the adoption of standards, technical interoperability, and preventive and predictive care.
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Published on: April 6, 2011

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