The European Commission has adopted Communication to support and improve access to telemedicine for EU citizens and healthcare professionals across Europe. In response to a call for action from Member States, this initiative aims to increase and broaden telemedicine services, including diagnosis, treatment and monitoring at a distance across Europe.
Such services will allow patients to avail these services from their hometownby a specialist working at a European Centre of Excellence for eye diseases located thousands of kilometres away. EU Health Commissioner, Androulla Vassilou expressed her belief that “telemedicine tools can indeed deliver improvements both in quality of care and patient safety as well as increase access to healthcare. This means both better services for citizens, and more innovative and efficient health services.” “The key to success”, Commissioner Vassiliou added, is “the full involvement of citizens, patients and health professionals”. The actions proposed by the Commission are:
To increase confidence and acceptance of telemedicine services among users. In particular, by encouraging provision and dissemination of scientific evidence of its effectiveness and cost effectiveness.
To bring legal clarity on existing EU legislation regarding telemedicine services and encourage Member States to improve provision of telemedicine services.
To solve technical problems such as the lack of adequate community-wide broadband infrastructure and interoperability of telemedicine devices.
This Communication defines the necessary steps to be taken by Member States, the European Commission and stakeholders, including healthcare providers and the industry.