EHTEL (the European Health Telematics Association) has been active on digital health since its launch in Brussels in 1999. By supporting its more than 60 corporate members, who come from throughout the European scene, in expanding use of digital health services, EHTEL is a leader in sharing lessons learned on the latest developments in digital health: telehealth use is growing, with and through the association’s members.


Building a two-way relationship


Among EHTEL’s members, Professor George Crooks, OBE, EHTEL’s recent President, says: “Successful transformational change on a large scale requires not only bottom-up willingness to change but also top-down policy support.” Evidence for this two-way relationship comes from comprehensive work on telehealth taking place throughout Europe, particularly in the United4Health European large-scale deployment project.

United4Health has successfully implemented and assessed the impact of innovative healthcare services for the remote monitoring of patients with chronic conditions. Initiatives are underway in Scotland, Wales, and 12 other regions on the continent.


Many health conditions can be supported with digital health


For patients, managing your own heart disease, lung disease, and type 2 diabetes in collaboration your own health team can all be supported well by use of digital and mobile technologies. For example, patients living with lung disease have been enrolled into this large-scale initiative in Hywel Dda in Wales. Patients are in contact with their health team through text messaging on their mobile phones. They received either Florence, a NHS England-developed simple telehealth app or the Docobo landline system, another technology started in the UK. Increasingly the focus is on use of your own mobile device. Meanwhile, the technologies are getting ever cheaper.

Patients, doctors, other health staff, and healthcare policy-makers are all working closely together to enable such large-scale initiatives to be successful, and to expand further. Today, the services offered are running with close to 10,000 patients throughout Europe. More than one million contact days between doctors and nurses and their patients have been supported. Getting all sorts of users involved has been crucial to success.

Other exciting developments are taking place in Spain, in both the Basque Region – where health coaching takes place over the phone – and Catalonia, among several other regions. They too have been run with local residents and patients. As Europe’s focus is more and more on cross-border health services, the expectation is that we shall all be able to access our own health records wherever around the continent we travel for work, study, holidays or retirement.

EHTEL’s own members, and their expert knowledge, range from Finland and Norway to Israel and wider. Its several working groups and task forces are exploring highly innovative developments. Always on the look-out for more expert and multi-stakeholder input and feedback, EHTEL welcomes your interest in its work.

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