Support Users To Access Information and Services

The European Union, as with all the other industrialised countries worldwide, is facing a dramatic increase in healthcare expenditure. This is mainly due to an unprecedented increase of the life expectancy of European citizens, and the prevalence of chronic conditions. The latter need to be managed for several years or decades to slow down the progress of the disease and improve the quality of life of the large proportion of the European population suffering from such chronic diseases.

We all expect that medicine will continue the rapid progress that we have witnessed in the last decades, and will provide ever better treatments for chronic conditions. However, there is a widespread conviction among healthcare professional and managers that one of the most effective ways of achieving both control on healthcare expenditure and better quality of life for European citizens is to change completely the role of the citizen/patient in the healthcare system: we must make him/her “part of the solution rather than part of the problem”.

Making people active actors in managing their own health requires a number of measures. These start of course from a better education of citizens about how to maintain their health; but even well educated people will then need proper information on their health status to effectively manage their health - a real empowerment driver. This means implementing the possibility for people to have easy access to their clinical data and interact with such data as proactive users.

This is a right enshrined in European Law, but which seems to be poorly applied throughout the Union, even though once clinical data are stored in IT systems (Electronic Health Records – EHRs), such access becomes much more feasible. Giving citizens access to their EHR is expected to release a number of benefits including improving the quality of data stored in the EHR which is today recognised as a real problem.

SUSTAINS is partially funded under the ICT Policy Support Programme (ICT PSP) as part of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme by the European Community