International e-Health Interoperability Workshop held at ESTEC 1

International e-Health Interoperability Workshop held at ESTEC 18-19 March 2005

Participants of TMA-Bridge workshop

2 days of hard work by 30 experts from Europe and North America in the TMA Sponsored International eHealth Interoperability Workshop at ESTEC resulted in a solid foundation for improving access to eHealth services by the European citizen when outside their home country.

Their work fell into two parts; the first a critical review of the work contained in the Interoperability report prepared by the TMA team and the second new ideas and recommendations coming from the brain storming sessions.

Workshop background
The transition to electronically assisted healthcare could be a boon for the mobile citizen; but, only if the individual European healthcare IT systems can ‘talk’ to each other – i.e. if they are interoperable.
ESA organised an eHealth Interoperability Workshop at ESTEC, together with the other members of the Telemedicine Alliance (TMA); WHO and ITU. 30 experts and stakeholders from 13 countries gathered for 2 days of ‘brainstorming’, to discuss, debate, and deliberate on the main barriers to interoperability and how to overcome them as well as reviewing the recommendations already proposed by the TMA team.

Enabling Healthcare for the Mobile Citizen
Phase-I of the TMA project identified lack of interoperability between healthcare ICT systems as one of the main barriers to European wide eHealthcare. If the health systems of Europe could ‘talk’ then the expensive transition to advanced eHealth in individual countries could be made available to a citizen visiting another country in Europe. The opportunities created include access to the electronic health record (EHR), better knowledge and operation of reimbursement systems, or obtaining telemedical support. This connectivity would be a key component to realising of trans-national health services.

Invited Participants – Bringing the expertise together
Experts representing some of the numerous groups and forums involved in eHealth and Interoperability were invited together with representative decision makers. They participated in the workshop to lay the foundations for realising the vision of citizen centred eHealth contained in the TMA report of 2004. The participants were divided into working groups and findings from each group were reported by the group rapporteur at plenary session where they were further debated.

TMA-Bridge Interoperability Report
These same participants also subjected the TM Alliance draft eHealth Interoperability Report to a searching critique. This report analyses the barriers to implementing cross-border eHealth. It adopts a holistic approach and used examples of eHealth services in 4 domains of healthcare:
  1. eCare: Trans-national Electronic Health Record;
  2. eEducation: Web Community Services, Reliable Health information webs for the citizen;
  3. eSurveillance: Early Warning Systems (comparable Public Health Data)
  4. eAdministration: Reimbursement. It contains a set of recommendations for removing the barriers in each domain.

Recommendations to the Policy Makers
The conclusions of the working groups and the outcome of the TMA-Bridge Interoperability Report critique were synthesized into recommendations paving the way forward towards improved interoperability across Europe. This will enable interoperability guidelines and standards to be introduced that will lay foundation for further investment in eHealth services as governments, providers, insurance companies and citizens seek to increase the efficiency with which they use eHealth services in other EU countries. This investment will encourage the development of European technical excellence and enterprise as organisations response the challenges posed.

Last update: 5 July 2005

More information

 •  TMA-Bridge Team Members (