Population and Public Health

Digital Health Advisory Group for Europe Calls for Four Actions in Building the Common European Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

A report on the acute priorities for managing and exiting the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe have been published by the Digital Health Advisory Group for Europe (DHAGE).

DHAGE involves a wider group of key decision-makers in Europe with the focus on strengthening European cooperation and facilitating synergies between the work of the European Union, the World Health Organization, their Member States and the healthcare communities and stakeholder networks powered by HIMSS in Europe.

DHAGE meetings are hosted by the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and HIMSS, which co-chair the group.

The report builds on the high level DHAGE Workshop that took place virtually, with the aim of proposing European cooperation solutions in the context of digital health challenges during the pandemic response. The implications on the use of health and social data for prevention, public health, clinical and research purposes were also addressed

The three COVID-19 related challenges include:

  • Nurturing the ongoing digital transformation of healthcare accelerated by the COVID-19
  • Creating digital tools for managing the pandemic and preparing for future health threats
  • The framework for cross-border exchange of health and social data post-COVID-19

The report highlights four Calls to Action and Cooperation that can be summarised as the following:

  1. An urgent need to prepare the infrastructure, legislation and reimbursement structures for the long-term integration of temporary changes in mainstream care
  2. Nations to work collegiately, and cooperate both within and between countries, including the voluntary and private sectors
  3. The European Health Data Space must be ambitious: opportunities in the secondary use of health data should be explored further, using Codes of Conduct and even creating a “GDPR 2.0 for Health”
  4. There is a need to invest in skills and literacy for digital health and data, as well as in a dialogue with the public

Dr. Päivi Sillanaukee, ambassador for Health and Wellbeing of Finland and member of the WHO Executive Board, underlined that “COVID-19 has shown us the importance of wellbeing and health for our societies; the interlinkage of different sectors; the power of digital tools in the society. These issues were highlighted by the idea of Economy of Wellbeing that Finland launched in 2019 when presiding the Council of the EU.”

She continued that “through DHAGE we seek to create input for developing policies that underpin the digital transformation in healthcare. Finland and HIMSS will organise further meetings of DHAGE to join international organisations and national governments in creative spirit. We aim to show results and activities during the next HIMSS Europe Conference in 2021.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a plethora of challenges in the healthcare sector many of which existed long before the outbreak. In addition to containing the pandemic, health systems are also challenged by ensuring the continuity of care for all their patients, particularly the vulnerable and at-risk populations. We are proud to partner with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health of Finland in mobilising the European stakeholders in the transformation of digital healthcare and the immediate roadblocks that need to be removed for the successful response to the pandemic, in particular by leveraging the digital platforms and tools. This Report is one step closer to achieving our goal in building more resilient, prepared, and sustainable healthcare systems in Europe, and beyond.” said Bruce Steinberg, Managing Director and Executive Vice President of HIMSS.

Access the full report.

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