Member States and Commission must work together to achieve eHealth objectives, says Liikanen
Speaking at a workshop on quality criteria for health related websites on 7 June, Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen stressed the roles that both Member States and the Commission must play in order to achieve the objectives set in eEurope's Health Online chapter. Delegates from government departments, international organisations, non governmental organisations (NGOs) and industry gathered in Brussels in order to discuss current practices and pilots with the objective of developing a shared set of key quality criteria which may be used by Member States to form the basis of future policy tools for assuring quality of information on health related web sites. Developing a set of quality criteria for health web sites is one of the four actions set out in the Health Online chapter of the eEurope action plan, which was devised following the Lisbon Council in March 2000. Other health oriented actions are the identification and dissemination of best practices in eHealth in order to assist purchasing departments in decision making, the establishment of a series of data networks in order to assist with informed national healthcare planning, and the drafting of a communication on legal aspects of eHealth, which should clarify which existing legislation has had an impact on eHealth so as to remove some of the uncertainties expressed by industry. 'The idea is to learn from what exists already, to harness current activities and to move forward in a coherent manner for while the policy makers traditionally move within State boundaries, the internet recognises such boundaries with only the faintest nod', said Commissioner Liikanen. Mr Liikanen stressed that the Member States and Commission must work together in order to attain important objectives. 'The Member State administration is, of course, the key actor in achieving the objectives set out in the Health Online chapter. However, a European dimension to the challenge exists in the identification and dissemination of best practices and the joint development of relevant benchmarking criteria for eHealth', said the Commissioner. 'The message is clear: Either we step into the information age together, determinedly, now, or our future will be compromised,' he said.