The industry believes that telehealth solutions must be developed at EU and national level to help combat growing financial and staff shortages in the European health sector.
However, it highlights several weaknesses within the current legal systems. COCIR, an industry group representing the healthcare IT sector, has called on the European Commission and member states to establish a single legal framework to overcome problems such as licensing, liability and cross-border jurisdiction.
It also warns that Europe's current financial model for healthcare is unsustainable and sees telehealth as a key area for the future.
The group insists that telehealth methods will improve detection of diseases, reduce mortality and hospitalisation rates and empower patients to deal with their conditions. But some doctors believe that an increase in the use of technology could have a disruptive impact on clinical practice and downgrade their role (EurActiv 22/09/09).
COCIR made its recommendation in a position paper released in response to a recent Commission Communication on telemedicine for the benefit of patients, healthcare and society.
The group calls for more cooperation between healthcare stakeholders to accelerate the adoption of telehealth in routine clinical practice and increased funding for large-scale projects aimed at evaluating the impact of healthcare IT solutions.
It also highlights the low level of integration of telehealth solutions in existing European systems and recommends more dialogue in order to establish a sustainable economic model for telehealth.