eHealth Forum 2015: eHealth as a reform tool & growth driver for the healthcare sector

The 2015 eHealth Forum successfully attracted and gathered, for the first time in Greece, electronic health specialists and stakeholders, who painted the picture of eHealth in the country, expressed their views and raised issues to be resolved. The need for a forum on electronic health, where all IT specialists, physicians and other healthcare professionals, the State in all its various levels, as well as distinguished scientists and foreign officials can meet, was reaffirmed at this event, the participants of which expressed their interest to reconvene in 2016.

During the conference, the Secretary General for Public Health, Yiannis Baskozos, announced the directions to be followed by the Ministry of Health eGovernance Department, which include, among other things: appropriate mechanisms for consultation with all IT system bodies in the public & private sector, the academia & research; concluding agreements for the scientific support of the Ministry by bodies and agencies such as the HL7 Hellas, IDIKA SA, etc.; the establishment of a National eHealth Ecosystem and a National eHealth Network; the creation of open communication channels for eHealth projects with a growth prospect; the creation of e-Clusters; the enhancement of eHealth-related educational actions; start the pilot operation of the Health Atlas, which includes an entire series of public awareness-oriented applications.

More specifically, in an attempt to surround itself by agencies and bodies with high-level know-how, the General Secretariat for Public Health establishes the National eHealth Governance Council, which is expected to convene on its inaugural session by the end of this year. Moreover, with a view to strengthen its scientific competence in interoperability-related issues, the Ministry shall sign an agreement with HL7 Hellas, a non-profit organisation for the promotion of Health sector communication application standards and co-organiser of the eHealth Forum.

During the Open Consultation with doctors and pharmacists on ePrescription, Messrs Y. Baskozos and A. Tagaris, Chairman and CEO of IDIKA SA, announced in great detail the new capabilities of the application, currently under development, which are directed both at physicians and patients, such as the integration of new treatment protocols; a more user-friendly interface and profile; updating patients on their prescriptions via e-mail and texts. Within the framework of these deliberations, representatives of doctor and pharmacist associations, as well as other interested stakeholders, commented on all open issues regarding ePrescription and received answers from IDIKA SA staff. The questions that were submitted electronically during the conference shall be addressed and posted on the IDIKA SA website.

During the two-day conference, participants were presented with a rare opportunity to listen to acclaimed scientists who described the necessity for and operation of, the EU interoperability framework in Europe; detailed the required codifications for health; presented international standards —including the IHE integration profiles, which the EU incorporated in the European specifications; the HL7 CDA clinical records creation standard and the HL7 System Functional Model of the Electronic Health Record (ISO/HL7 10781:2009: HL7); and made extensive references to the prospects for the future.

Large projects in progress were showcased, pertaining to cross-border prescription and the patient summary care record, patient registries, as well as already successful applications, such as the Austrian healthcare card. As regards medical data analysis and management applications, of great interest were the systems used by the EOPYY, the corresponding agency in the Region of Venice, but also the Ministry of Health Business Intelligence system. The pharma industry (SFEE, EFPIA), physicians, as well as the EOPYY all joined the same table to discuss the utilisation of big data and the exchange of health-related information among them.

The use of eHealth applications and systems in everyday clinical practice as well as in patient treatment in various fields was presented by clinicians with specialties ranging from paediatrics and pulmonology to gynaecology and neurology-psychiatry. Systems contributing to the monitoring and follow-up of patients suffering from COPD or dementia, the prevention of obesity-overweight or the early detection of cognitive impairment, or provide care to chronic disease patients or palliative care to oncological patients. An interesting discussion took place at the Workshop organised by the Hellenic Network of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP on AHA) for its members, so as to plan the network’s next steps.

The eHealth Forum, with a view to inform interested parties on various sources of funding and innovation —which include research programmes and eHealth projects— hosted speakers from a large number of competent bodies, such as the General Secretariat for Research and Technology, the Hellenic Pasteur Institute and the EkinisiLab-SEV (Hellenic Federation of Enterprises). The rationale and ultimate objectives of funding tools, such as Horizon 2020 and its sub-categories, the project already launched or are about to be announce, as well as the process of business ideas maturation were analysed in this session.

Greek speaker, as well as guests from several European countries graced the 2015 eHealth Forum 2015 with their presence: from Austria, Dr Clemens Auer, Director General, Ministry of Health; from France, Karima Bourquard, IHE Europe; from Italy, Claudio Saccavini; Consorzio Arsenal.IT; from Sweden, the Director General of the EFPA, Richard Bergström et. al. Teleconferencing facilities made it possible for the following distinguished eHealth personalities to have a virtual presence: George Crooks, NHS 24 – Scottish Centre for Telehealth & Telecare; Brian O’Connor, European Connected Health Alliance Chair; Alpana Mair, Dep. Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Scottish Government; Josep Roca, Professor, Hospital Clinic-IDIBAPS, and others.



The 2015 eHealth Forum 2015 was co-organised by HL7 Hellas and the General Secretariat for Public Health.

Scientific Support Agencies:
IDIKA SA, Hellenic Network of the EIP on AHA, Athens Medical Society