Global eHealth News

Highlighting actions in international ehealth, the Capitol Hill Steering Committee on Telehealth and Healthcare Informatics held a briefing June 25th. Neal Neuberger, Executive Director of the Institute for e-Health Policy, moderated several panels that discussed a number of multilateral issues related to international eHealth.

Ticia L. Gerber, Founder of the Integrative Center for eHealth and served as Director of Global Partnerships and Policy for Health Level Seven International, presented a concise snapshot of global eHealth or ICT as it pertains particularly to developing countries.

According to Gerber, “The focus is on global ehealth and mobile health all over the world. In the last 5 to 7 years, $120 million to $150 million flowed to developing countries from U.S. government agencies like USAID and the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation. Most of the funding went to Low Middle Income Countries (LMIC).”

She continued to say, “LMICs have special issues and needs when it comes to technology. Few people in these countries are very experienced in what is needed and the corruption that is prevalent in some countries can result in unstable governments. Future ehealth projects need to reflect on specific health needs in developing countries and also different funding models for ehealth projects need to be developed.

As head of the Finland Trade Center and Director of Health Sciences for the Americas, Val Kratzman, reports that Finland has created a mobile health environment and pushed mHealth to a new level. Finland operates with a comprehensive basic health IT infrastructure and widespread use of electronic patient records.

He added, “The healthcare system has been very successful in developing and using a disease registry to provide genetic information that includes predictive models for cancer. The goal is to have the registry eventually share information with the U.S.

Looking at health IT from the U.S. government’s marketing and trade viewpoint, Matthew Hein International Trade Specialist, for the Office of Health and Information Technology at the U.S Department of Commerce (DOC), reports, “DOC’s International Trade Agency (ITA) provides a number of tools to help companies find opportunities in health IT oversees. This includes organizing health trade missions incorporating IT into the program to appeal to companies and other organizations, working with HHS on policy issues, and investing in mHealth.”

Hein reported that he European Commission published a “Green Paper on mHealth” released by the European Commission in April 2014. Go to http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/news/green-paper-mobile-health-mhealth to view the “Green Paper on Mobile Health”

Dan Gilman JD, PhD, an Attorney Advisor in the Office of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission discussed the FTC Workshop “Examining U.S Health Care Competition Issues” held last March. The Workshop discussed regulatory issues, innovations, barriers to new models of care, advances in the field, and the ability to measure and assess the quality of healthcare technology.

Globalization can produce challenging competitive issues due to anticompetitive conduct. This sometimes requires the FTC to be involved internationally with organizations and international agencies on issues affecting competition not only in the U.S but also worldwide.

Discussing issues from the corporate viewpoint, Lisa Pettigrew, General Manager for Global Healthcare at CSC, touched on eHealth issues in Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. She said, “Overall, countries are experiencing several emerging trends such as the rise of the activist consumer, positive changing models of care, government changes taking place globally, along with the move for single payer systems to become multi-payer models.”

She pointed out, “In the U.K, there are major trends inhibiting growth of ehealth which has resulted in vendors not really focusing on interoperability and the sharing of information. Also, in the UK as in many other countries, unplanned immigration is a huge issue that will result in the need to provide healthcare for many more patients.”

Last month, the iBlueButton was demonstrated by Bettina Experton, MD, CEO for Humetrix, at the “Health Datapalooza” meeting recently held in Washington D.C. She announced, “Veterans are now able to use iBlueButton, to download their VA, DOD, Medicare and other health records on their smartphones and share the data with their doctors. The information is secure because the information comes directly to your device and is not stored on a server.”

“It is important to develop standards, product and safety requirements not only globally but for each region and country,” according to Jeri Lynn Kirschner, Federal Health Liaison and Partner Marketing Manager for Orion Health. She explained how important it is to maintain privacy and that while France has the oldest privacy laws, Germany’s laws are tougher and stricter.

As Director for Global Health and Workforce Policy at Intel, Alice Borrelli wants to see ways to help the aging population which requires a strong need to really drive real innovation for seniors. Today, Intel is making a great effort to provide essential technology and equipment to help the elderly.”

She also wants to see genomics sequencing advance particularly to help patients with chronic diseases. However, a number of questions arise as to how long to store the data, where to store it, and how to access the information.

For more information, go to www.e-healthpolicy.org.

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