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EHTEL Community Position Paper on Digital Health

In recent years, there have been several consultations on pressing topics in the European Union around digital health and care. There will be more to come!

In their responses, EHTEL’s members have focused on three key issues:
  • Citizens’ empowerment and their online access to health and care data
  • Continuity of care and interoperable service implementation
  • Digital transformation management and governance 

The opinions expressed result from members’ own experiences in the field, their lessons learned in European co-financed projects, and work in a series of EHTEL-organised working groups and task forces. These orientations are core elements of EHTEL’s work and members' expertise.


Citizens’ empowerment and online access to health and care data

EHTEL members take the stance that:
  • Appropriate and meaningful support services need to be offered by the systems and services that citizens use.
  • Meaningful support is important. Citizens will increasingly rely on self-monitoring technologies, on smart messaging services, and on remote monitoring systems.
Emphasis needs to be put on:
  • Citizens getting appropriate education and training by receiving the context-related information that they need online. They should be able to manage and enter their own health care data. They should be able to trust the professionals that perform those services and the services themselves.
  • Citizens, especially older adults, may need help and guidance to mature their skills and competences in the different aspects of digital health. These skills must be built up at the level of society.
  • The workforce employed in different services needs appropriate training in the use of digital health tools and services. For this specific reason, EHTEL has strongly supported the EU*US eHealth Work project in 2016 and 2017.

Continuity of care and interoperable service implementation

EHTEL members take the view that:
  • The topic of people in ageing societies should be better addressed, in particular through continuity of care and interoperability.

  • Civic society organisations and peoples’ representation need to be involved in the design and implementation of standards and interoperable solutions. The importance of this key success factor has led to EHTEL’s support of the PROGRESSIVE project.

  • Care needs to be continuous from the early stages of people’s lives to the end of their lives. Therefore, health care services should be systematically connected horizontally and vertically.

  • Activities on developing interoperable solutions from clinical and semantic standpoints need to be better known to civic society.

  • Legacy issues represent critical implementation challenges to address. Legacy exists on the organisational, procedural, and technical levels. As a result, up-to-date technology can fail and it may take extra efforts to connect to it.

  • Business modelling techniques can help significantly to sustain initiatives that aim at developing interoperable solutions. Hence throughout 2017, EHTEL has worked closely with the ValueHEALTH project.


Digital transformation management and governance


EHTEL members consider that:

  • Believing in the digital transformation of health and social care systems and services is one thing, but stronger efforts are needed to translate that belief into a real commitment, and to implement new ways of working to deliver real progress. As a result, EHTEL is very involved with DigitalHealthEurope, the European effort to focus on three key initiatives to get European health and care digital.

  • Good governance and change management strategies are cornerstones to ensure that these changes take place effectively. Tools and methods are instrumental in building capacities but need to address the specificities of the multidisciplinary environments of health and social care. In this way, actors in the field will contribute to, indeed drive, digital transformation. One key example for involving actors is the SCIROCCO tool for scaling-up integrated care in context, another is the Blueprint for the digital transformation of health and care in Europe.

  • Numerous other examples of tools can facilitate a shift from one service readiness level to the next. Many of these shifts should focus on facilitating the expression of the demand side of health and care. Identifying and applying incentives are key as well.


Next steps

EHTEL is focusing increasingly on Thought Leadership activities and tasks. Upcoming publications will include opinion pieces, short reports, and position papers on digital health.

EHTEL Members are keen to exchange knowledge with wider communities at the European and global levels. To get involved in these activities or for additional information please feel free to contact us.

Scroll down to the resources section and download the EHTEL Community Position Paper on Digital Health.


  • EHTEL Community position paper on digital health in Europe 22 March 2019 PDF*