Challenges, Changes and Choices - What will eHealth in Europe look like in 2016?

Article posted on: January 4, 2016

There have been a number of common European IT healthcare themes present in 2015 that will hopefully be back with us in 2016 as hospitals strive to make progress with the introduction of electronic records, interoperable systems and patient access. Against a backcloth of growing financial pressures, progress in many countries and within many acute hospitals remains painfully slow. Despite a number of subtle differences prioritising telemedicine, data security, electronic health cards and electronic prescriptions the vast majority of health economies are tasked with creating comprehensive electronic records to support transfers of care and care away from the hospital environment.

The Hospital CIO Challenges

The CIO will,however, require greater leadership acumen as expectations of modern technologies continue to grow with patients and citizens finally having some expectation of this technology being present in the health care environment. The incentives and penalties are starting to find their way into the eHealth agenda however the ‘patient expectation’ driver is still not having the desired effect. Satisfaction levels within those who use healthcare IT continues to be mediocre with many CIOs struggling to maintain personal credibility through periods of major IT enabled transformational change. The CIO will need to have the skills to manage effective stakeholder relations across an entire health economy becoming the facilitative glue that sticks organisations together, meanwhile being more proactive in leading in digital transformation.

Focus on the Health IT Leaders

IT leaders will need to be bold and courageous to exploit this potentially closing window of opportunity. It is a brave Executive Team who agrees to a significant investment in the current environment. Equally, it is a brave one who ignores the ability of technology to be a potential game changer. The CIO must be capable of taking clinicians and possibly patients and citizens with them. The ability to manage the external environment is more important than being able to manage within the walls of the hospital. This will be the challenge for 2016.

The Continuity of Care Conundrum

The ability to assess levels of digital maturity across an entire health economy must bring benefit and understanding to the whole systems leader as they ‘measure up’ to the challenge of not only establishing relationships across the whole health economy but making the technology work as well. The HIMSS Continuity of Care Digital Maturity Model (CCMM) assists all those with a whole systems perspective understand the importance and significant of becoming more digitally mature together rather than one part of the system (primary care in some countries – secondary care in others) leaving the rest of the system behind.

Organisations that are committed to working together will often exhibit a common commitment to share information, have joint funding arrangements, a willingness to transfer care, similar leadership styles and cultures, single assessment processes and absolute clarity on clinical responsibility at all stages of the patient journey. Whilst this environment does exist in many parts of Europe it remains a ‘pipe dream’ for the rest of us and something that we need to strive for in 2016.

Twitter - @himssjohn

John Rayner
John Rayner, Regional Director – Europe and Latin America, HIMSS Analytics - HIMSS Europe - HIMSS UK