logo Collaborating for Digital Health and Care in Europe

Joint Digital Healthcare Symposium "Our Digital Health ... is everyone ready?"

The Joint Digital Healthcare Symposium took place on 19-20 January 2016, while the STOA workshop eHealth in Europe: Reality and Challenges Ahead was held in the European Parliament on 1 December 2015 and is accessible as a recorded web stream.

Day 1 - Transforming the patient experience and leveraging of the benefits of eHealth in Europe

The first day of the conference started with an exploration of the experiences of United4Health patients on three of the telehealth-using sites.

Facilitated by Donna Henderson, U4H co-ordinator at NHS 24, Scotland, the conference audience heard from by three specialist clinicians - cardiologist Dr Miren Nekane Murga, Dr Sandeep Thekkepat on diabetes and Dr Hugh Brown (right) on COPD.

The United4Health Vision and it's evaluation approach were introduced by Leo Lewis, Project Manager, and Dr Panos Stafylas, Medical Co-ordinator, both representing HIM SA, Brussels.
  • Dr Panos Stafylas, United4Health Medical Coordinator of HIM SA, laid out the comprehensive work that United4Health - as a study of deployment - has undertaken to explore the implications of telehealth use for patients in each of three areas of chronic conditions. United4Health lays out a “seven-steps approach” to telehealth deployment, ranging from innovating to adopting in real life. More than 10,000 patients have been involved in the United4Health initiative, with around 1.5 million days of follow-up and around 80,000 contacts with physicians. The project processed all the resulting data within a 40-day period. First indicators show that hospitalisation rates are being reduced; 90+% of patients are showing substantial satisfaction rates, and remissions were registered in some conditions. As a result of the United4Health project, many of the project sites are now going to expand their use of telehealth.
  • COPD is the third most common cause of death in Wales and the second most common reason for admission to hospital in England. The Welsh Hywel Dda pilot caused beneficial reductions in the number of hospitalisation-days and saved costs. In parts of Wales, connectivity is difficult. Hence, the authority reverted to using landline phones. The most versatile system to be used with patients was Florence ('Flo'), a simple messaging service which allows to send reminders. Using this system allows the patients to take back control of their everyday lives.
  • Dr Sandeep Thekkepat described the upcoming diabetes pandemic: diabetes is expected to affect around 642 million people globally by 2040. He outlined the use of the SCI-Diabetes system and MyDiabetesMyWay in Scotland, which has led patients to far greater control of their own conditions. The positive results could ultimately lead to reduced diabetes complications. Telehealth-supported diabetes care has become firmly part of routine care in the country. As Dr Thekkepat concluded, "We are now able to make important sensible decisions, and frequently."
  • The in-depth telehealth initiative on cardiac conditions that has taken place in the Basque Country, enabled the Kronikgune site (represented by Dr Nekane Murga) to achieve "an improvement in patient health, in patient satisfaction, and in the health services. In addition, there were also improvements in patient empowerment and adherence, and in anticipatory care." The Basque Country registered high patient satisfaction in this area.

Day 2: Healthcare Anywhere and the Internet of Everything

Concluding the Joint Symposium, this future-proofing session explored the implications of the Internet of Things for the next generation of healthcare.
Chair, Mario Romao of Intel Corporation, painted a picture of many new technologies that can already work in health and care (including public health) and which are now already available in retail stores: sensors, electronic fitness products, wearables, etc. The Internet of Things (aka the Internet of Everything) will become the paradigm for digital health and wellness.
Four speakers looked at the different, new and innovative ways in which healthcare could and should be provided in this "anywhere" sphere.
  • Elijah Charles from Intel (UK) spoke about "riding on the datum", exploring data from integrated systems, communication between systems, and messaging so as to be able to undertake effective planning for patient flows in hospitals and clinics and between primary care and secondary care institutions. His conclusion was that healthcare institutions are not yet making the most of the potentially huge amount of data that is available to them.
  • Claus F. Nielsen from DELTA (DK) - a self-confessed 'gadget boy' - drew from the experiences of his young son who has diabetes type I, a condition that affects 25,000 Danish children. Using equipment to help measure vital signs with regularity can enable a child to measure his health status, and a father to have peace of mind even when miles away from home. Many new forms of equipment are available, including those being supported with the help of pharmaceutical companies. For example, Continua's personal connected health alliance is working to generate greater awareness, availability and access to plug-and-play personal health technologies. Mr Nielsen's tip was to look to Scandinavia because that is where it is happening", and his encouragement to all was to "come and visit us".
  • Yet diabetes, especially diabetes type II, is a huge problem worldwide, as Dr Petra Wilson from the International Diabetes Federation pointed out. In Europe, perhaps one out of every 11 people have diabetes; in the United Arab Emirates, for example, it is however one out of every four. She particularly criticised health care data silos. Every person with diabetes spends much of his or her time in self-management: up to 8,755 hours a year. For this reason, obtaining more data about one's condition can help the individual, but at the same time it can assist healthcare professionals to do a better job and health care systems to manage the coming tidal wave of chronic conditions much more effectively. Some data protection and privacy issues remain to be resolved, however.
  • The view from the pharmaceutical sector on data regulation was articulated by Brendan Barnes, who represented the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and associations (EFPIA). EFPIA welcomes the new agreement on GDPR. The pharmaceutical industry is most interested in using de-identified data. Areas to be explored would include a platform for continuing dialogue among the diverse stakeholders in the field, and the construction of a regulatory framework that will both enable further drugs research while still helping to build trust.

[Photo courtesy by STOA]

  • To access the EP Think Tank BLOGpost providing a comprehensive workshop summary, click here.
  • You can find the recorded webstream of EHTEL’s affiliated eHealth Policy Event chaired by MEP Eva Kaili at the European Parliament in Brussels here.
  • Doers from the field have informed policy makers of what it really means to use eHealth and mHealth at scale to transform healthcare delivery. Access STOA (European Parliament) presentations here.
Scroll down to find and download some of the resources made available to all EHTEL Symposium's participants.


  • EHTEL Symposium 2015-16 agenda 21 January 2016 PDF*
  • United4Health report - Joint Symposium 21 January 2016 PDF*
  • United4Health report - STOA workshop 21 January 2016 PDF*

Join our Network

There has never been a more crucial time for health and social care stakeholders to engage with each other to shape and influence emerging models of healthcare...

Read more

Keep in Touch

Follow Us