Technology is essential to medical operations. However, there are disparate norms, terminologies, and operational standards used throughout Europe, which contributes to the fragmentation of the healthcare technology sector.
What is the result? The capacity of companies selling the machinery to function in a single market is constrained.
a single European norm
One of the projects assisting the health industry to better engage with the market is “Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise.” IHE assists in providing guidelines and data that enable information sharing among practitioners, business, and patients.
IHE’s primary goal is to standardise the use of the core standards that are most frequently applied in the healthcare industry, not to produce core standards.
An international gathering named Connectathon brought together a variety of diverse actors from the health sector in Montreux, Switzerland, to talk about common problems they confront and test their medical solutions.
When creating and implementing the forthcoming European Health Data Space, consideration is also given to their feedback and experiences.
“The industry, through its products, acts as a bridge between legislation and the users of clinical data, whether they are patients or doctors. Synergy happens when institutions adopt interoperability frameworks based on international standards ”
Dedalus Global Interoperability Product Strategist, Lapo Bertini
Challenges with data sharing in the European healthcare industry
But European national healthcare systems face a number of obstacles.
One patient, for instance, visits a particular clinic on a regular basis for cardiac examinations. If they require a checkup at another facility, a problem develops. Frequently, the various healthcare facilities do not exchange the findings and data related to the patient’s health.
IHE suggests that users, suppliers, and healthcare facilities work together to establish guidelines outlining how health data should be exchanged. But developing such a connected framework is a difficult challenge.
Stéphane Spahni is a Swiss Cyber Health expert. He works as a Systems Architect at the University Hospitals of Geneva and explains the difficulties of creating a centralised European framework.
Why does that matter?
Standards and interoperability are essential in digital health to ensure that the system functions effectively and that patients receive high-quality care.
Focusing on language and semantics, standards are a set of principles that facilitate communication amongst health systems. Standards aid in creating a shared language throughout the medical technology industry.
Interoperability, on the other hand, refers to coordinated data exchange.
IHE experts assessed dozens of medical items and programmes at the Swiss Connectathon to see if they complied with protocols established in a variety of fields, including radiology, cardiology, patient care coordination, and laboratory medicine, to name a few.
“The software creators taking part in the event aim to test the exchanges between their system and the other software systems, which are modelled on real use cases,”
Anne-Gaëlle Bergé, a Connectathon Technical Manager for IHE Europe
How would it function?
IT professionals anticipate a case-by-case approach when it comes to approving access to patient health data.
“We can imagine that consent will be by default and then it will be up to the patient to decide which health professional has access to which data. So, by either explicitly naming the practitioner, or a specific category of practitioners. On the other hand, a patient could say I don’t want my data to be accessed, unless I’m admitted to the emergency room and they really need to access it to treat me.”
Anne-Gaëlle Bergé explains how the frameworks could work
The project to create a European Health Data Space will accelerate the digital transformation of healthcare delivery systems. Sharing data with digital health companies will also enable the delivery of more patient-centered healthcare solutions in this new environment.