Yee Theng Ng (standing, third from left) with other members of the Young European Leadership delegation

Europe’s Embrace of E-Health

As a participant in the annual European Business Summit (EBS), Yee Theng Ng (MBA ’18), was among thousands of business and government leaders discussing the latest policy issues that impact Europe.

She attended the conference, one of Brussels’ largest annual events, as a member of the Young European Leadership (YEL) delegation, whose mission is to empower young leaders to shape their own future. Yee Theng’s attendance at the May 2017 summit also benefitted Philips, the company where she is currently doing her summer internship. As a leading health-technology business, focused on improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation, her supervisors supported her participation in EBS as a way for her to learn how digital transformation is affecting Europe’s healthcare sector.

“Attending EBS was really eye-opening,” Yee Theng said. “We were able to hear about how some countries have already implemented digital technologies in healthcare, such as Estonia, which has successfully aided 98 percent of its citizens in going digital with their healthcare records.”

Her main EBS takeaways:

  • The 2-day summit featured prominent speakers from around the EU

    The 2-day summit featured prominent speakers from around the EU.

    An increasing focus on big data will radically transform the healthcare systems of the future. Big data will help increase patient engagement in disease prevention and management, and speed up diagnosis. It will also aid healthcare providers to zero in on the right treatments. One of the key factors in making the big data transition a success – communication across all stakeholders. Open communication will decrease participants’ fears and increase trust, allowing for an easier adoption of the new methods by both patients and healthcare providers.

  • Empowering citizens is another crucial step. In order to give citizens digital access to their personal health data and allow them to safely share it (if they wish), a secure data infrastructure needs to be created. Along with offering personalized healthcare feedback, this infrastructure will collect health information for advanced research and disease prevention.
  • Digital literacy is also important for embracing e-health. If citizens understand how digitizing health data can provide better care, they will be more willing to contribute data for research purposes.
Delegates at the EBS in May, 2017

Listening to Ain Aaviksoo from Estonia

As part of the conference, Ain Aaviksoo, Deputy Secretary General for E-services and Innovation at the Ministry of Social Affairs in Estonia, shared his country’s success story. Estonia has built a strong public infrastructure of e-services, including healthcare, which simplifies its administrative burden and connects its public services.

The country’s digital Health Information System is now used by 98 percent of Estonian citizens. Also, 99 percent of all medicine is issued using a digital prescription. The incoming Estonian government has named e-health one of its key priorities. Hopefully, this attention will incite other EU countries to make similar investments in their healthcare infrastructure and raise the bar to digitize of healthcare in Europe.

Currently, several EU member states are building a legal framework for automatic medical data sharing for research, with the goal of ensuring that health data is used securely through good data governance. The European Commission is also focusing on e-health, and plans to present specific proposals later this year.