The Digital Health Europe Summit 2021 has begun: Day 1 in a nutshell

The Digital Health Europe Summit 2021 has started today. Nearly 200 people attended the first day of the summit, discussing the facts and challenges of the digital transformation of healthcare.

The Summit began with the introduction to the topic from Marco Marsella (DG CNECT), Head of Unit for eHealth, well-being and Ageing, and Dr Birgit Morlion, DHE Project Officer, who provided the overview of the policy context. The keynote speech was delivered by the former Prime Minister of Finland, Esko Aho. The introductory session ended with a short glimpse into the DigitalHealthEurope project by Dr Veli Stroetmann(empirica). Moderated by Dr José Martinez Usero (FUNKA), the session speakers reflected on what fundamental conditions are necessary for digital health and care to flourish. Birgit Morlion (DG CNECT) started her speech by stating that new digital technologies and data open numerous opportunities for healthcare. She also pointed out that COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation by citing the European Digital Covid Certificate, a truly interoperable digital solution as a successful example. Hereby, Esko Aho noted that when we speak about technologies, we tend to underestimate the potential of technology and overestimate what has been achieved already thanks to technology. According to Mr Aho, to maximise the benefits from digital technologies, the healthcare sector should aim at moving to preventive, personalised and participative care. This can be enabled by digital technologies. He also underlined the importance of investments in infrastructure and the need for regulatory changes.

During the second session dedicated to digital transformation through replication of European best practices in health and care, DHE’s twinning partners shared their first-hand experience with the scheme and their thoughts on scaling up best practices through collaboration and partnership building in digital health and care ecosystem. Furthermore, they discussed the different support services offered by DHE. Five twinning representatives, originators and adopters reported on their success stories, how they managed to adopt innovative solutions, fostered co-creation, co-design with patients and overcame standardised data collection challenges across Europe.

The Summit ended for the day with a session on sustainable approaches where the invited speakers took stock of horizontal and vertical challenges of scaling-up, knowledge sharing and capacity building in a sustainable way, as well as the skills and capacities necessary to overcome the challenges incurred. During the discussion, DHE consortium partner networks also shared their experience on using digital technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The panellists stressed the need for a multidimensional and person-centred approach which became even more pronounced during the pandemic. Moreover, he shed light on several challenges that needed to be worked on: 1) development of the multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral approach, 2) digital literacy training and workforce engagement linked to communication and knowledge sharing, 3) integrating existing and new funding opportunities

The final panel speakers agreed that it is necessary to enhance policy-oriented learning, strengthen interaction with stakeholders and engage new stakeholders at all levels. 

The DHE Summit takes place online from 28 till 30 September. The Digital Health Europe Summit 2021 brings together EU policymakers, funders, digital health experts and other stakeholders for inspiring and forward-looking debates. Topics range from real-life transformation through digital health (Day 1), via empowering citizens (Day 2) to scaling up innovation through health data (Day 3).