EHTEL publishes e-health patient charter

The European Health Telematics Association (EHTEL) has published a patient charter defending patient’s rights to “switch off e-health technology”. The charter sets out the potential of e-health to improve healthcare, particularly for older people and those suffering chronic conditions, but says this must not be at the expense of patient’s privacy. The charter calls on national healthcare authorities across the European Union to adopt a patient-centric approach to agreeing and harmonising guidelines on the use of e-health systems and the processing of electronic health records (EHRs). The culmination of four years work, the e-health patients charter aims to ensure patients’ voices are not overlooked in the development of e-healthy services. Areas covered include: ensuring patient dinity and respect; privacy and confidentiality; control of the HER; and access to appropriate information. Angelica Frithiof, chair of the EHTEL patient stakeholder group, said monitoring technologies were intrinsically intrusive. “We must recognise that despite the clear advantages, monitoring technologies, by their very nature are intrusive since they are by definition installed in private residences be they rooms in a care institution or in a private home.” Frithiof added: “The bottom line is that the charter advocates for the ultimate in patient empowerment; the patient’s right to be in control of the technology and to be able to switch off certain services imparing patient privacy when necessary.” EHTEL president Martin Denz said, “In addition to supporting healthcare professionals in the delivery of patient services, e-health information services also have the potential to empower patients themselves.”

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