Telemedicine news in Spain Update on digital health in Europe

In today’s society we are very much in contact with telemedicine, according to a survey, 57% of people use a device with digital health, they mainly use it for physical activity and the fight against sedentarism. 90% of those surveyed use this type of device to measure steps; about 70% to follow the activity or physical exercise that is performed; and 60% to record the beats per minute.

The European Union has also identified digital technologies, such as telemedicine, as one of the key factors for the development of the Union, both in the field of health and mobility, environmental protection or energy.

The resolution of the European Parliament on the achievement of the digital transformation of health and care services in the Digital Single Market, the empowerment of citizens and the creation of a healthier society, considers that the health and care systems face important challenges in the context of an aging society, increased life expectancy and a steady decline in birth rates raising concerns about the sustainability of healthcare service delivery in the future.

The European Commission (EC) hopes that Digital Health will promote people’s participation in managing their own health, emphasizing lifestyles and prevention, connect the various agents in the health and care sectors social security, improve emergency preparedness and response to epidemics, refine procedures, reduce inefficiencies and support results-oriented healthcare through the analysis of digital health data.

The CE establishes as a model of great value in the generation of knowledge that which includes, in a common space, data from health care (clinical history, electronic prescription, pathological anatomy, results of diagnostic tests or clinical procedures), telemedicine and other digital technologies. Advocating that digitized health records, collected in a European health data space, can lead to better treatment of major chronic diseases, such as cancer and rare diseases, but also to equal access to high-quality health services for all people.

Considers essential the evaluation of innovative health technologies, based on evident evidence, which allows reorienting the approach of modern medicine and advancing in the new perspectives of personalized medicine.

All this taking into account reports such as the one carried out by the Nuffield Trust, which defend the need to understand who is more likely to experience barriers related to new technologies in terms of access to health services and care, while assuming that the Social inequalities in health are the result of a complex interaction of factors.

These proposals are included in the New European Agenda 2019-2024 which, in the second of its priorities “Developing our economic base: the European model for the future”, assumes that the digital transformation will continue to accelerate and will have far-reaching repercussions. This new Agenda seeks to guarantee that Europe is sovereign from a digital point of view and obtains its share of the benefit in this evolution, always within the framework of European values.

To do this, the EU must work on all aspects of the digital revolution and artificial intelligence: infrastructure, connectivity, services, data, regulation and investment. This implies promoting inclusive and multidisciplinary initiatives that make it possible to obtain the greatest possible benefit from the digital transformation in the context of European values, promoting inclusion, training, prosperity and sustainability.


The implementation of telemedicine in the SNS

For its part, and to be in tune with the European agenda, Spain has established the “Digital Spain 2025 Strategy”, which is articulated around 10 axes, each of which incorporates a series of specific measures to achieve a series of goals.

We are going to talk about those that directly affect the SNS and have to do with digital health, but if you want to know more about these 10 points, you can click on this link.

The field of health is directly present in the area of Cybersecurity (services for the SNS) and in that of Digital Competences (training of health professionals) and, indirectly, will benefit from the promotion measures to connectivity and 5G technology.

Axis number 7, “Tractor Projects of Sectoral Digitalization”, which seeks to “accelerate the digitalization of the production model”, specifically identifies Digital Health as one of the areas with the capacity to generate tractor projects that promote a sectoral transformation with structural effects.

Specifically, it foresees a tractor project for the digital transformation of the health sector through innovation, research, care and patient empowerment, with the ultimate goal of increasing the quality of life of the population.


The Digital Health strategy of the National Health System

The Digital Health Strategy of the National Health System aims to contribute to the maintenance of a good level of health in the Spanish population and to strengthen the public health system through the transformative capacity of digital technologies aimed at people, health professionals, organizations providing health services and other related agents.

This transformation of the NHS is focused as the result of a coordinated, interoperable, integrated and multidimensional development that generates applications for the entire bio-health ecosystem: public health and epidemiology, clinical practice, health management, universities, research centers and a thriving sector of emerging and innovative companies around health and healthy lifestyles, with clear synergies among all.

It focuses, fundamentally, on four strategic objectives:

  1. Train and involve people in the care of their health and in the control of the disease and facilitate their relationship with health services by promoting their participation at all levels and promoting their co-responsibility.
  2. Maximize the value of the processes for a better performance and performance of the public health system, supporting the work of professionals and facilitating communication between them in a way that ensures continuity of care and strengthens the governance of organizations.
  3. Adopt data management and governance policies that provide interoperable and quality information and create a National Health Data Space for the generation of scientific knowledge and the evaluation of services.
  4. Adapt the evolution of the NHS to the demands of today’s society, applying innovation policies aimed at 5P medicine (Population, Preventive, Predictive, Personalized and Participatory). A concept already mentioned by Jaime del Barrio, president of the ASD in our last TRAK. EVENT.


The best examples of health digitalization in our country

While a general institutionalization of digital health is being forged at the state level, some autonomous communities have already adopted their own digitalization model. Some of the best examples would be:

-Junta de Andalucía: the app ‘Salud Andalucía’ allows the completion of the most common procedures, such as the appointment request, and also the consultation of the electronic medical record. On their website they define it as follows:

“The App ‘Salud Andalucía‘ -and the improvement and evolution of some of the applications it contains- have been launched thanks to the Agreement signed in 2018 between the Andalusian Health Service and the public entity for the application of ICT in the management of chronicity and continuity of care in the Andalusian public health system.

It incorporates different identification and authentication options that guarantee security in access, also facilitates the download of Apps approved by the Public Health System of Andalusia that can be used for specific functions and the application can be configured to receive and store notifications.

-Government of La Rioja: one of its most successful initiatives has been the Digital Health Center of the Rioja health service, which serves 10,000 patients per month. It would be the first Digital Health Center of a public health system at the national level where professionals prioritize and screen face-to-face care in Primary Care, relieving their professionals of the most bureaucratic tasks.

With digital medicine, an average of between 550 and 600 daily appointments are attended, being able to reach up to 890 appointments in the days of greatest demand, this has a key role in health education since it can solve those doubts about pathologies, treatments and studies from a reliable source such as a health professional.

-Government of Murcia: in the Murcian health service they have two applications to facilitate access to services for the population. These are the “Patient Portal” and “SMS Appointment”. They incorporate functionalities to consult, request or cancel an appointment with the family doctor, save the data of different users to facilitate the management of appointments and facilitate access to electronic prescriptions or to  anticoagulant treatments.

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