Partners of the ENS4Care project presented the final guidelines for the deployment of eHealth by nurses and social workers to policymakers on 8 December 2015 in the context of the European Innovation Summit,. The acceptance of eHealth by health and social care professionals is fundamental in order for it to be taken up successfully across Europe.
Over the last two years, the partners of the ENS4Care project, which also includes EPHA, have developed eHealth deployment guidelines in five different areas (healthy lifestyle and prevention, clinical practice, integrated care, skills development for advanced roles and nurse ePrescribing) for the benefit of nurses and social workers across Europe. The European Parliament event, hosted by MEP Alojz Peterle (EPP, SLO), who underlined eHealth’s role in prevention and health promotion, concluded the project in a political setting which enabled the dissemination of project results to representatives of the European Commission and other policymakers.
Throughout the two-year process, project leader Paul de Raeve (European Federation of Nurses Associations) has underlined that only a well designed EU health and social workforce with the right, evidence-based tools will be ready to address front-line concerns and offer high quality, patient-centred care. A political commitment is key to strengthening the design of integrated care, in which continuity of care and prevention are well embedded.
At the event, EPHA Board member Peggy Maguire (European Institute of Women’s Health) pointed out that the majority of nurses and social workers are female. New technology is not ’gender neutral’: often solutions are ill-adapted to the needs of women who occupy multiple roles. e.g. workers, mothers and wives, family managers and carers for the elderly. Given these constraints, Maguire said it was important that eHealth solutions were user-friendly and tailored to women’s specific roles and responsibilities, also in the workplace.
The Commission, represented by Peteris Zilgalvis of DG CONNECT and Tapani Piha of DG SANTE welcomed the guidelines in the context of increased need for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills and competences in ’digital healthcare’ systems, and other developments such as ’Big Data’ and self-care undertaken by patients. Mr Zilgalvis also stated that the guidelines were important for the implementation of the eHealth Action Plan and as a follow-up to the Commission’s Green Paper on mobile Health, stressing that eHealth is merely a tool at the service of nurses and other health professionals.
To guarantee the long-term sustainability of the project, the European Nursing Research Foundation (ENRF) has been created, which will collect, analyse and present evidence on outcomes and deployment, which will aid political decision making and ensure eHealth’s integration into the health and social ecosystem.
In 2016, EPHA is planning to continue its work as part of the eHealth Stakeholder Group, with a focus on how eHealth can become a tool for patient-centred care that can really enable things for individuals, patients and other health stakeholders. The results of the ENS4Care project and the work of the ENRF will be highly valuable in this regard.
As part of a new campaign on e/mHealth, EPHA will also continue to push messages around accessibility and meaningfulness for vulnerable groups and eInclusion, the goal being to support the Commission and the Member States in embedding eHealth as an integral part of healthcare for all people living in Europe.