Denmark has revealed its intention to base its new national action plan for telemedicine on guidelines created by the Continua Health Alliance, a non-profit organization based in Oregon, USA that focuses on establishing industry standards for the interoperability of plug-and-play personal health devices.
According to a press release, Denmark’s telemedicine action plan will establish national standards for health IT in areas including the secure collection, transmission and storage of personal health information from patients’ homes; the sharing of medical documents and images; and the management of health records, medical appointments and other related information.
The Danish government says it has chosen to base the plan on Continua guidelines to ensure that personal health devices and services introduced in Denmark are simple, secure and convenient for patients and providers.
“Denmark has taken the first pioneering step in revolutionizing healthcare,” said Claus Nielsen, the vice chair of the Continua Health Alliance Europe and international business development manager for DELTA, a non-profit Danish research and technology company. “This important milestone made by the Danish Government helps reduce healthcare costs and helps citizens to become more engaged in their health.”
The long-term objective is to ensure that patients in any part of Denmark can use devices to access health data and obtain support from their healthcare providers.
Denmark has already emerged as a leader in telehealth, having been ranked as a pioneer in the field in a recent report by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (IPTS).
“The Danes have succeeded in deploying telehealth, because all relevant stakeholders have been encouraged to join in,” said Fabienne Abadie, a scientific officer at IPTS. “One cannot hope that the market alone can push the use of telehealth into care practice. A good model of governance, at regional or national level, is crucial to support telehealth in order to reap the benefits it offers. In this process, stakeholders such as the health care professionals play a vital role.”
One Danish success story has been the monitoring of arrhythmia patients using an ECG ePatch. “We know ... that the Odense University Hospital Svendborg now realizes substantial savings by treating patients in their own homes,” says Nielsen.
The IPTS study notes that while there have been encouraging telemedicine developments elsewhere in Europe, including parts of Spain and Italy, nationwide deployments are still hampered by a number of barriers that pioneering countries—which include England and Scotland, besides Denmark—have managed to tackle.
Nielsen evidently believes the latest announcement regarding Continua is an example of Denmark’s foresight. “Due to the new era of smartphones and tablets, we can jump directly from the first to the third generation of telehealth,” he says. “To do so, we need to build plug-and-play ecosystems for data in order to push the revolution of smart personal health devices.”