The EU4Digital eHealth team last month held an online workshop with representatives of the Eastern Partnership eHealth Network to address responses to the COVID-19 outbreak. The eHealth team shared their insights into how the crisis has been managed globally from a digital health perspective, and the common trends that had emerged, while Eastern partner countries shared the steps they had taken in dealing with the virus.
The EU4Digital eHealth team shared an overview of solutions used to address several common themes, including crisis management mobilisation, digital health platforms and telehealth for access, ability to deploy cloud and mobile applications and effectively use data for crisis experience management, as well as large-scale e-Learning capabilities to ensure information update and sharing, and remote working support.
Among the insights shared, the importance of re-use of existing services and infrastructure was emphasised, in particular:
- Use of existing eHealth services to address patient experience communications and to enable additional patient diagnosing routes;
- Use of existing e-Learning platforms to provide healthcare workers with a single point of access for structured content to enable rapid dissemination of research information and updates on COVID-19.
The team noted that existing infrastructure had faced challenges in adapting to the current high levels of need, and that healthcare reforms and digital transformations should therefore continue after this crisis, albeit in a different way. Among the top necessities for managing the crisis were integrated operations, data management and analytics tools, and 360-degree experience management among different stakeholders.
The main solutions shared and implemented by Eastern Partner countries were:
- All countries have mobilised COVID-19 contact centres at state level.
- Deployment of monitoring and data collection systems and publishing of common analytics data in the form of epidemiological situation update dashboards.
- Deployment of mobile applications (e.g. AI, chatbots) for triaging patients, contact tracing and proximity tracking.
- In order to limit the spread of the virus, several countries utilised telecom operators’ data for patient adherence to enforcement and monitoring.
- Countries that had existing operational national eHealth platforms were able to re-use the existing infrastructure on virtual care scenarios (e.g. ePrescription, eReferrals for lab tests, telehealth, etc.) to avoid unnecessary patient visits to care providers.
- Enablement of cross-sector cooperation (e.g. combination of use of ePrescription for prescribing medicine and use of national postal services for delivery to patients).
- Hackathons were also widely used as a tool for the generation of ideas and solutions.
The solutions shared had common ideas and innovative approaches in both re-using existing infrastructures and services, as well as in the ability to rapidly deploy new solutions. The workshop provided a common discussion platform for sharing all these valuable practices.