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The only thing more expensive than health is losing it

Sirpa PIETIKÄINEN
09.04.2014 - 09:27
Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP

eHealth offers an all-in-one solution - quality of life, savings and jobs all together!

eHealth is one of the great developments of our time. Bringing new technology and new ways of thinking to healthcare could simultaneously enhance our quality of life, save money and create new business opportunities.

eHealth embodies the concept of technological innovation that can improve the quality of our lives. It makes it possibile to take early action that is more effective for our health and thus also more cost-efficient than long days spent in hospital. And we don't even need much. The core technology is here now. We have clever gadgets that can already monitor blood pressure, body temperature or heart rate. Ordinary mobile phones could send the results to a doctor who could immediately see if there is a need for intervention.

eHealth makes it possibile to take early action that is more effective for our health and thus also more cost-efficient than long days spent in hospital Sirpa Pietikäinen

And more and more sophisticated equipment is on its way. Just a few weeks ago I heard about an innovation that would prevent some heart attacks by monitoring certain enzymes from blood samples - at home! Body technology, advanced materials and robotics are also some keywords to describe the latest developments.

Data portability and data protection

When the European Parliament adopted an eHealth Action Plan for 2012-2020, the EPP Group underlined the need for transferring the data collected to patient's electronic files automatically. It is also of the utmost importance that this data is transferable from one system to another, both inside and between our countries.

As important is to guarantee the protection of this data. The EPP Group pushed for the new rules that will modernise the current data protection principles by reinforcing individual rights, thus providing more safety for EU citizens and boosting consumer confidence. Reliable privacy rules that also include the right to data portability are a prerequisite to the development of eHealth.

eHealth supports active ageing

eHealth is also a vital concept for healthy ageing. It supports active aging, where people can live at their homes as long as possible.

I have personal experience of taking care of an elderly family member and I know the common, everyday problems

I have personal experience of taking care of an elderly family member. I am also in regular contact with people in similar positions and I know the common, everyday problems. I know that we could do much better if we could just move the data of the samples taken at home more often instead of moving the people.

We shouldn't ask whether or not we can afford to guarantee healthy ageing, but whether we can afford not to?

With eHealth, the fact that Europe is getting older could be seen as offering potential, rather than being a threat. We have the knowledge and the market for innovations that ageing societies all over the world will soon be demanding. We shouldn't ask whether or not we can afford to guarantee healthy ageing, but whether we can afford not to?

Promoting a growing eHealth sector for more jobs

The global eHealth market is estimated to be worth €17 billion by 2017 with an average growth rate of 12-16 percent annually. This is almost ten times the speed of growth of the whole EU economy.

The European Commission estimated last year that there were around 5000 SMEs in Europe operating in various eHealth sub-sectors

The European Commission estimated last year that there were around 5000 SMEs in Europe operating in various eHealth sub-sectors. These SMEs, and future ones we haven't yet seen, also need some support. The timespan for developing new high-tech products is long and many innovative companies are small. Securing their financing would create new jobs and growth and this is just what the EPP Group stands for.

Combining quality of life with new jobs and business opportunities through innovation is the best policy plan I could ever think of.

We believe in people. #believeinpeople @spietikainen

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