ICT Challenge 5: Towards sustainable and personalised healthcare
Note: This is a short overview of targeted activities and is not legally binding. Fuller details on targeted activities are provided in multi-annual ICT work programmes which can be downloaded from this site's Library section
Why is it important?All Europeans want the most effective healthcare for themselves and their families. Yet Europe is ageing, putting immense pressure on healthcare systems which already account for around 9% of the EU’s GDP spending. Europe must also respond to emerging disease risks, and manage huge amounts of health information securely.
The health sector is information-intensive, and is therefore relying increasingly on advanced Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to make healthcare more efficient. Europe’s eHealth industry, however, is fragmented. Action at European level is essential to ensure that the European industry takes a leading position in this strategic field, and brings these benefits to all Europeans.
Where do we stand?Many European patients - particularly elderly patients - receive insuffi cient or inadequate healthcare. Individuals cannot yet opt for comprehensive and secure electronic health records, which would make it easier and safer for them to be treated anywhere in Europe. Health professionals do not yet all make use of advanced imaging-based systems or patient-specifi c data to support their diagnoses or to plan treatments. Most health authorities and managers do not have adequate management systems available to them which prevents them from comparing health data across Member States to improve their decision-making.
At the same time, ICT may off er solutions to save lives and improve illness prevention and safety of care. Recent developments in fi elds like biomedical imaging combined with the latest knowledge about diseases, are leading to a new generation of predictive medicine.
Where do we want to go?
ICT contribute to the quality and effi ciency of healthcare delivery. Europe must now pool its resources to develop
advanced ICT which will:
How do we get there?While the global eHealth industry is growing, the European one is fragmented into 27 markets. Overcoming this fragmentation will give European industry the economies of scale it needs to grow, and will bring greater health benefi ts to all Europeans. Like all research co-funded by the EU, the idea is to focus on the essential work that has to be done at a European level and to pool Europe’s resources. The aim is to bring together universities, research institutes, small and large companies and governmental organisations across Europe into strategic, cross-border and interdisciplinary research projects. EU research under this Challenge will focus action on three specifi c aspects of e-health systems:
Personal Health SystemsPersonal Health Systems (PHS) off er the means to follow patients’ health using wearable, portable or implantable systems, thus enabling them to live a more normal life. PHS are used by patients in their homes, workplaces or on the move and are connected to hospitals or care centres via telemedicine links. They provide health professionals with comprehensive monitoring and diagnostic data, helping them to make more accurate decisions and offer more eff ective care to their patients.
PHS is achieved by combining several ICTs such as: biomedical sensors; micro- and nano- systems; mobile and wireless communications; user interfaces; and intelligent signal processing and knowledge management. They combine the monitoring of health parameters, as diverse as vital body signs and biochemical markers, and the patients’ social and environmental context with expert biomedical knowledge to diagnose, treat or manage diseases efficiently, within the patient’s preferred environment.
The focus will be on the provision of high quality, personalised care, through better use of the available resources. Particular attention will be paid to the interoperability with hospital information systems and with electronic medical records across multilingual environments in Europe.
Patient safety and risk assessmentSafer surgery will need innovative ICT-solutions to improve training for surgeries and computer-aided surgical interventions. This involves modelling, simulation and visualisation of surgeries as well as developing realistic models of tissues and organs. The tools will also help with planning and predicting the outcome of operations.
Integrated medical databases will aggregate clinical information to enable health professionals to predict, detect, and monitor health problems. Linking electronic health records with clinical research information systems is essential to achieve this objective.
Systems for the early detection of public health risks will use innovative data analysis techniques such as text mining and free text interpretation. Much of this information can be retrieved from the media, but audio and video information will have to be converted into searchable information sources.
Virtual Physiological HumanThe Virtual Physiological Human will revolutionise the way health knowledge is produced, stored and managed as well as the way healthcare is currently delivered. The VPH seeks to translate all functions of the human body into a coherent set of multiscale computer models.
The modelling scale could span from the whole body down to the cells and the proteins they synthesise. The VPH framework will provide ICT tools for developing patient-specifi c computer-based models and simulations using specifi c patient data allowing for personalised and predictive healthcare. These multi-scale models will be used to develop integrative approaches to predict the risk of developing a disease and then diagnose and treat it. During drug development, these model organs could be used to assess the effect of drugs on specific populations.
Results will include personalised disease prediction, early diagnosis, better surgery planning and training, and a better understanding of the link between genes, disease and treatment. Th e predictive models will significantly improve the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of the patients.
Finally, international partners working on related International projects will be invited to take part in on-going VPH projects to strengthen global cooperation and international impact of EU-funded research.