On the 17th of November 2016, the Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union approved a Statement on eHealth recommending (1) to engage with pharmacists as experienced users to develop eHealth policies and services at local, regional or national levels; (2) to integrate eHealth into health systems so it complements and supports existing practice; (3) link electronic health records with ePrescribing systems; (4) and improve communication and collaboration between patients, healthcare professionals and ICT developers to obtain the full potential of eHealth technologies and build confidence and trust.
Since April 2015 the PGEU has attended and organised a dedicated pharmacy/pharmacist session at the Med-e-Tel conference in Luxembourg each year organised by the International Society for Telemedicine and eHealth (ISfTeH) where best practices and new developments in ICT innovations in pharmacy practice are shared and discussed with audience members.
In July 2014 the PGEU responded to the Commission’s mHealth Green Paper consultation.
It is now up to all the actors involved in providing and sustaining good health for all European citizens to ensure that it continues to develop further and the full potential of eHealth is realise. eHealth presents an historic opportunity to make quantum leaps in the ability to provide care for patients more safely and efficiently.
In particular, there is significant evidence to suggest that use by pharmacists of electronic health records has a significant potential: to improve patient safety, to support the development of new patient-focused services, to improve interdisciplinary collaboration within the health care team, and to improve the quality, and ensure continuity, of care.
The patient must be at the center of healthcare. Community pharmacists are ready and committed to play their part, going beyond their traditional role of dispensing, and positioning themselves in the front line of patient care with patient-focused services. As such, community pharmacists are active stakeholders in present and future eHealth systems.
eHeal Governance Initiative
In response to the call for a networked, patient-centred and accessible health care via eHealth, European Commission together with Member States have set up the eHealth Governance Initiative. The eHGI is a multi-institutional, multi-stakeholder collaboration working to establish a governance structure for eHealth within Europe in order to ensure continuity of healthcare both at home and across borders. It is achieving this through the development of strategies, priorities, recommendations and guidelines designed to deliver eHealth in Europe in a co-ordinated way. This work involves all stakeholders but especially patients and healthcare professionals, including pharmacists. PGEU is an associatie partner in this initiative with primary focus on user trust, involvment and acceptability of eHealth.
PGEU was one of the main partners of the EU funded project Chain of Trust.
In February 2014 the PGEU participated in a teleconference for Patient Control and Access to electronic health records. The Commission has recently proposed guidelines on interoperability of ePrescriptions for consideration this year by the eHealth Network. The guidelines on patient summaries were adopted by the network in November 2013 and are available from the Secretariat.
In March 2014 the PGEU attended the eHealth Governance Initiative (eHGI) ePrescription and eIdentification (eID) workshops in Brussels where we argued for appropriate adherence to / interpretation of the Cross Border Health Directive i.e. to keep to national dispensing rules (for example on substitution and reimbursement) as the working group forms the guidelines on cross border. A final round of consultation on these guidelines will take place in mid September in Brussels which PGEU will attend.
Again in March 2014 the PGEU participated in an online eHGI Patient Access to Medical Records meeting where participants shared their experiences of patient access to their medical records and the potential impacts and advantages of such an initiative. Access by healthcare professionals such as pharmacists was also discussed positively.
In April 2014 PGEU met the eHealth Network (eHN) eHealth Governance Initiative (eHGI) team at the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) meeting in Brussels. Here more discussions and workshops took place regarding the interoperability of prescriptions in Europe. An updated ePrescriptions factsheet was created as a result of the data obtained by the PGEU after this meeting on the current state of play of ePrescribing in Europe. The data collected in this exercise along with that from the roundtable discussion at the PGEU Professional Affairs Working Group (PIWG) on 12th May helped form the basis for a presentation the PGEU delivered at the eHealth Forum Conference in Athens 12th – 14th May on the topic of the practical difficulties faced by community pharmacists implementing systems for cross-border ePrescriptions. This presentation was well received and stimulated much debate over the practical implications of cross-border ePrescriptions.