Digital Health Literacy




First of all, I want to thank all initiators not only of this meeting, but the Ini Report prepared in the European Economic and Social Committee on „Digital Health Literacy – for citizens-friendly healthcare in Europe in times of demographic  change”.

 

It is very inspiring Report, with concrete analysis of many problems and challenges and adequate conclusions.

 

The patients’ awareness of the new opportunities due to the eHealth solutions is at the heart of the shift paradigm: from the model oriented mainly at diseases to the patient-centred model focused at prevention.

 

  1. WHY IT IS SO IMPORTANT ?

 

Because:

  • European citizens often do not have the necessary skills to find, understand and appraise online health information and apply their knowledge to make health decisions

 

– According to the eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020 presented by the Commission (COM (2012) 736 final), one of the main barriers to deployment of eHealth is:

lack of awareness of, and confidence in ehealth solutions among patients, citizens and healthcare professionals

 

– Digitally health literate citizens can play a more active role in their health self-management, resulting in improved prevention, adherence to a healthier lifestyle and better health outcomes and developing the self-responsibility of individuals for their own state of health, and in addition – developing the model of the co-responsibility done by patients and doctors together,

 

  • Europe is already committed to strengthen the digital literacy of citizens so that they can play a more active role in managing their own health.

 

  • To support patients’ empowerment, we need to improve:

 

  1. Healthcare professionals’ attitude, competences and skills to communicate with patients, to educate them and welcome patients’ participation in co-responsible models of taking care about health via digital tools,

 

  1. B. Health literacy, which is the ability to make sound health decisions in the context of everyday life – at home, in the community, at the workplace, the healthcare system, the market place and the political arena. So,  it requires to address all educational efforts focused on patients for changing the attitudes, for developing the competences, for giving the skills. And make it in the inclusive way.

 

  1. C. Professional digital literacy addressed to the physicians and all people involved in healthcare systems (it should be in curricula in the education) with clear purpose: be more innovative and bold in using new digital opportunities.

 

  1. WHAT ARE THE GENERAL PRIORITIES:

 

  • to avoid fragmentation of the digital health literacy development, also territorially. Health, health literacy and the digital health literacy are the part of the European Well-Being model, so we need the proper tools to foster this literacy accessible in Europe, understandable for people, implementable in all countries.

 

  • to avoid the redundant differentiations between countries and solutions, when we are talking about the institutional, technical, infrastructural framework for eHealth development.

 

  1. HOW TO ACHIEVE IT :

 

  • there is a need for stronger links between the digital health development and the research efforts in the European Research Centres and industry laboratories,
  • there are many components to the digital health technology infrastructure: interoperability schemes, cloud platforms, open integration layers, High Performance Computing, AI, 5G networks, IoT development, data infrastructures. Those new possibilities  will make it possible to share the sophisticated medical techniques currently known only in some limited areas,
  • the data accessibility, real time monitoring, schemes for data sharing, capacity for data processing – are crucial for the research driven healthcare and data driven healthcare development. This is the only way to make healthcare models more oriented on personalised services, prevention, focused on integrated care,
  • we must re-shape the healthcare system optimising resource allocation and lowering healthcare costs through more efficient care coordination,
  • we should speed up with the development of EU- level policy recommendations focusing on how to stimulate in a best way an emerging Silver Economy in Europe. There may also be a need to lower barriers to create  suitable products and services and scale up new solutions for ageing population,
  • we must develop the usage of robots and smart learning machines to support elderly people with disabilities, but it requires the new model of relations between patients and those specific AI, or – when we are considering the assistance to the people, chatbots – for better, transparent communication, avoiding the threats of emotional dependencies. So, the issue of ethics by design implemented into devices, machines, products and services  based automated decision making systems and algorithms – is crucial,
  • Health care is transforming towards increased patient involvement. This requires digital literacy ( it is obvious!!!), inclusions, facilitating communications, ensuring higher confidence between health workers and specialists  to be able to handle information and actively empower patients and make them involved in their health conditions. The involvement of patients into this change process – is crucial.

 

  1. WHAT ARE THE KEY CONDITIONS TO ACHIEVE THOSE GOALS ?

 

  • the first, crucial factor is : PARTICIPATION OF ALL STAKEHOLDERS and COOPERATION, but also, at the same time : the POWERFUL LEADERSHIP!!!!!

 

  • THEREFORE, WE NEED TO CALL for leadership and cooperation between ICT and health to:

 

  1.  Connecting remote, rural and underserved communities with referral centers and expert care,
  2. Facilitating communications between health workers, specialists and patients;
  3. Improving quality of care through digital solutions for diagnosis, clinical decision support systems, monitoring patient compliance with treatment,
  4. Optimising resource allocation and lowering healthcare costs through more efficient care coordination
  5. Improving data management for monitoring, reporting, accountability.

 

FINALLY:

To establish proper conditions for Digital Health solutions for Europe should be our goal based not only on cooperation of all stakeholders  (vertically and horizontally), but on TRUST!!!!

 

Patients should feel confident using new technologies and communicating with physicians personally and via telemedicine platforms!

 

Without the programme developing the Digital Health Literacy it will be impossible !

Thank you for your attention!