The Trans-Atlantic Economic Council (TEC) on 29 November 2011 reinforced the commitment to the MoU, requesting a report by May 1, 2012, on concrete steps that can be taken towards achieving transatlantic interoperability of electronic health records (EHRs), through the use of common standards, tools, and common certification criteria.
The US department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and DG Information Society and Media (INFSO) of the European Commission have had preliminary discussion of the development of a global conceptual framework which articulates how health-related ICT support improved health and addresses their economic benefit while promoting continuous innovation. Toward that end, work has been undertaken to promote the availability of measures of the degree of healthcare providers' use of health ICT to deliver patient care.
Two issues have been identified as having immediate importance and potential for the DHHS and EC shared goals. These are:
Past Joint EU-US MoU Events
After the MOU was signed, DHHS and DG INFSO personnel engaged in a series of working discussions, and participated in two public-private workshops - the first workshop held in Brussels (Belgium) in April 2011, and the second in Washington, DC (USA) in October 20116. As a result of this ongoing collaboration, the EC and DHHS have identified the main elements of a joint roadmap for activities under the MoU, and will outline these elements by the summer of 2012. A joint EU-US Workshop on activities under the MoU was held on 7th May 2012 in the context of the eHealth Week Conference. This EU-US workshop featured presentations by high-level speakers from the EC and DHHS as well as international intergovernmental (WHO and OECD) and other entities with relevant expertise.
The Copenhagen workshop was part of the ongoing collaboration between US and European officials and technical experts. The workshop and some additional, face-toface working discussions that will occur between relevant US and European officials and technical experts present in Copenhagen will advance development of the roadmap and help to identify further areas of health-related ICTs which would be of mutual interest. The roadmap is expected to be finalized in the summer of 2012. In addition on 7th May 2012, also in Copenhagen, the EU's eHealth Task Force (chaired by Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia) issued a report in which it made recommendations aimed at redesigning health systems in Europe and ensuring that all citizens can use and benefit from eHealth.
Future Joint EU-US MoU Events
In addition to ongoing, regular working discussions between INFSO and DHHS personnel, the Copenhagen EU-US workshop will be followed by joint event focused on eHealth 'Policy Convergence' in Boston, Massachusetts (USA), during the week of October 23rd 2012. The joint events will be held in the around the 2012 Connected Health Symposium in Boston in the same week. It is expected that the event will offer substantial opportunities to discuss the roadmap in detail, and to engage a variety of stakeholders in thinking about how they can become a part of activities to accomplish roadmap milestones.
Beyond 2012, it is anticipated that there will be a number of jointly organised activities such as meetings, workshops and symposia including those to be held during the Irish Presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2013 (e.g. eHealth Week 2013 due to be held in Dublin). These activities to advance the common interests articulated by the MoU is expected to address areas such as research, innovation and policy coordination involve key stakeholders such as the DHHS and DG INFSO, health professionals, patient representative bodies, the health-care private sector, and technology/systems suppliers.
'Business-oriented' Event (in Boston October 2012)
Independently from the European Commission and the US DHHS the European Connected Health Alliance (ECH Alliance) intends to organise a Business Marketplace on 23rd October also in Boston. The main objective of this event will be to encourage a multi healthcare sector, multi Member State mission from Europe to meet with companies, health providers, research institutions and others from across the USA to encourage business relationships, research and other collaborations. There will be a "matching process" offered in advance, to help ensure that the event is as effective as possible in terms of networking and collaboration between healthcare actors on both sides of the Atlantic. There will be opportunities for short presentations from as many participants as possible on the 23rd October and for follow-up meetings on the 24th.
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