logo Collaborating for Digital Health and Care in Europe

EHTEL 20th anniversary

2020 provides the chance to reflect on a year’s work but also on work spread over an entire decade. It's also an opportunity to look ahead to the important challenges which face Europe as it moves forward on the health and care front to 2029.

From 1999 to 2019

Since 1999, EHTEL evolved reflecting the changes of the “digital” society as a whole. In 1999, mobile and digital were still unripe concepts, and attention was focused on the Y2K bug scare and the gateway of the new millennium.

But EHTEL wasn’t just about technology, it has always been about people. From the first President, Mr. Jan van Eimeren, to the current president, Mrs. Simona Abbro, several influential personalities succeeded to the head of the Board. With the help of their guidance, EHTEL put its efforts into gathering people from all over Europe, and collecting a wide variety of viewpoints.

EHTEL has also contributed to knowledge development. It has participated in more than 25 European projects, and built implementation capacities in many different European locations – through projects such as Momentum.

Many things have changed, but the main benefits of EHTEL for its Members and stakeholders stay the same. The benefits include: Sharing experiences gathering point of view from different stakeholders, building consensus and capacity, developing partnerships, and locating unbiased information about digital health and care and eHealth technology.

And in 2019

EHTEL had a great time during the year of its 20th anniversary. It was wonderful to be able to celebrate 20 years of active focus on what digital health has meant for a wide range of stakeholders.

EHTEL created, and experienced a wide range of activities in 2019. There were many highlights:

We engaged in looking forward to 2029
We made examining the future of digital health technologies our cornerstone activity. Examples included what artificial intelligence and mHealth will bring. 
We focused on digital transformation of health and care in Europe
We viewed the 2018 Communication on digital transformation as our guiding star, and committed proactively to its three pillars of activity in 2019.
We were actively involved in the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing
We encouraged many concrete activities in the fields of scaling-up ICT in healthcare and digital health, including regional health opportunities, twinning, and matchmaking.
We offered our members a window through which to promote, and talk about, their own impressive steps
Examples included Catalunya’s initiatives on future technology trends; Finland’s advances on e-health and e-welfare as well as data donation; and Norway’s work on artificial intelligence and social robots.
We revived our working group and task force activities
The ELO was especially visible through its organisation of workshops and webinars. The Innovation Initiative and the Digitally Integrated Care Task Force got more active too.
We held a content-full annual Symposium
At the end of 2019, we were joined by 120 colleagues at a content-packed event co-organised with TicSalut Social in Barcelona, Spain. At the Symposium, we celebrated the outstanding input of six longstanding individual EHTEL members.
We joined six more high-profile projects
To the more than 20 projects that EHTEL has been involved with over the years, in 2019 we added DigitalHealthEurope, InteropEHRate, OPEN DEI, UNICOM, LIFEBOTSExchange, and SCIROCCOExchange.
We organised two EHTELconnect service study visits
In summer 2019, we organised a study visit to Scotland for a Swiss hospital. In May 2019, we organised a study visit to Bari, Italy and its ELO working group. There were several key themes for reflection, such as AI, that emerged throughout EHTEL’s 20th anniversary year, with its focus on “Imagine 2029: Our data, our health, our care”.

What’s next

Many technologies are about to influence how health and care are organised and perceived. This is the important challenge of EHTEL’s third decade. The digital dimension has grown into a significant game-changer in health and care. In 2020, the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has helped push even harder on the accelerator.

AI is a very significant factor in digital development, and one of the current top technology trends. Advances will be enabled by people’s own data and wise decision-making on how to generate, use, and manage data. It is clearly really important for people to be AI literate and for the contexts in which they use AI to be AI-friendly environments.

Associated with AI are some other exciting and challenging topics.

Examples include:

  • The fair data economy: New forms of economy are being built on and around data. For Europeans, it is really important that any such a data economy should be fair – for end-users, for service providers, and for data providersHealth and care are very important areas in which fair data can operate.
  • Data sharing: Knowing more about our own personal health and care can help us as individuals and as families. Sharing that data – under the right circumstances – can help improve the health of our communities, and health and care systems at large – through public health and population health, and good quality research. The digital world will surely improve the ways in which data can be shared more effectively. In 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak is showing very dramatically how this can be done.

Calls for Action

2019-2020 is providing EHTEL with a set of major milestones. New content will be produced by EHTEL members through an ongoing co-creation process over these two years.

 - Contribute to EHTEL’s working groups and task forces by offering examples of your own innovative digital health and care experiences and progress

 - Take a look at EHTEL's Anniversary Symposium outcomes. Imagining 2029 was key to our activities there

 - Discover the Imagining 2029 work programme and its related webinars