The European commission’s digital plan is much needed for the uptake of new technologies in the healthcare sector

EFPIA welcomes the publication today of the European Commission’s plans to digitise Europe’s industries. This shows a clear commitment on the part of the Commission to ensuring that industry, SMEs, researchers and public authorities are able to use and implement new and innovative technologies.

In the field of healthcare, EFPIA believes that a combination of e-prescribing, electronic health records, and mobile health (mHealth) applications for better adherence – which all fall within the scope of the Commission’s plans – may serve to improve outcomes dramatically.

The pharmaceutical industry remains convinced that by enabling access to integrated population data sets, which include biobanks and "big data” as well as patient-reported outcomes – through healthcare apps – eHealth and mHealth will help accelerate the development of new medicines. The routine collection of real-world data will provide regulators and payers with much needed confirmation of relative effectiveness, thereby promoting a life-cycle approach to the introduction and evaluation of medicines.

EFPIA recognises that certain challenges remain, in terms of securing the safety of mHealth solutions and the protection of personal data. This will necessitate further research into methodological approaches in order to improve the “quality” and reliability of big data related to health, and the development of a high technology standard to improve interoperability.
The Commission’s plan follows on from the Green Paper on mHealth, released in June 2014, which suggested that mHealth could contribute to a more efficient way of delivering care through better planning, a reduction in unnecessary consultations and the improvement of guidance on treatment and medication, leading to better prepared medical professionals.

EFPIA DG Richard Bergström said:

“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we address new healthcare solutions. The use of new technologies will contribute to significantly improving the management of acute and chronic diseases. While they will inevitably have a short-term impact on disease management, they may also deliver significantly in terms of taking down silos established within the healthcare and social security budgets. Ultimately, they will reduce the focus of health budget management on medicines alone and secure continued access to innovative products and services.”