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Digital technologies often are mentioned as a solution to keep hospitalisations at a sustainable level, through the empowerment of citizens for self-care and self-management. ICT technologies are also considered as a promising way to improve the accessibility to health and care services.

Digital Technologies As A Way To Cope With Population Challenges

The study “Large-scale sustainable deployment of digitally-enabled innovation for health and care delivery to the ageing population” analyses the nature and barriers to investments by EU regions and local authorities to support the deployment and implementation of large-scale, sustainable, digitally-enabled innovative solutions for active and healthy ageing (AHA).

The objective of the European Commission is to achieve more than 50 EU regions active in the field improving the lives of at least 4 million citizens by 2019. The first objective of this study has been to create a contact group with key multi-stakeholders’ organisations to discuss the situation of investments in digitally-enabled innovative solutions for AHA, and the approach around the launch of a survey aiming to quantify and qualify these investments across Europe.

Secondly, a survey was held resulting in 41 completed responses. The survey allowed the identification of 18 procurements (committed or planned for the years 2017 and 2018) from 11 different organisations. The main characteristics of these investments are:

  • Public entities and non-profit organisations purchase health products and services for the public sector;
  • Areas of interventions cover the six topics of the six Action Groups of the EIP on AHA, with a majority of the expected solutions targeting integrated care and chronic disease management;
  • 61% of the investments are under 1 million euros, around 20% above 3 million euros;
  • Most of the targeted solutions cover a large part of the population (not only age-related conditions);
  • 50% of the investments forecast interventions in a population of more than 1 million people;

In terms of expected outcomes of the purchased solutions, the most frequent answer is around the empowerment of patients for the self-management of their health condition, the reduction of costs being only ranked 9th.

The part of the budget dedicated to solutions integrating digital technologies is still relatively low (0-3%)

Through individual interviews, the study looked for qualitative information about these investments but also about the reasons preventing some regions or local authorities from purchasing digitally-enabled solutions for AHA.

Even though many EU regions have defined strategies which (almost all) include digital technologies to tackle health and ageing challenges, the operationalisation of it by public procurements is still limited. The part of the budget dedicated to solutions integrating digital technologies is still relatively low (0-3%).

However, the interviewees recognised that their local strategies clearly identify digital technologies as a way to cope efficiently with the current large population challenges (chronic diseases, ageing). In several cases of investments, the digitally-enabled solutions are procured via the support of European structural funds.


The purchasing organisations identified several barriers preventing them from triggering public procurements for digitally-enabled solutions for AHA:


  • Difficulty to identify which are the digitally-enabled solutions available on the market and to obtain reliable information about them;
  • Available digital solutions on the market have limited scopes and are difficult to integrate to the existing information systems;
  • Lack of interoperability (need for an EU framework);
  • Lack of openness of the (proprietary) solutions for data sharing among the health and care providers and for the 2nd use of data for research and innovation purpose;
  • The digital gap for ageing population still remains;
  • The purchasing organisations usually prefer tailor-made solutions and decide to develop their own ones (doing specific development and not purchasing standard solutions available on the market);
  • Lack of high broadband internet services;
  • Lack of user-friendly solutions;
  • Cultural change required in purchasing information, health and care professionals and citizens;

Risk associated to innovation

The lessons learnt through this study have led to the definition of specific actions, which could be used to tackle these challenges. These suggestions of actions and innovation will be important inputs for the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing.

This plan will also support the demand side (purchasers) and the supply side (in particular SMEs and start-ups), in order to trigger more and larger investments in digitally-enabled solutions for AHA, leading to more relevant solutions for the current needs and challenges that the EU health and care systems are facing.

“Large-scale sustainable deployment of digitally-enabled innovation for health and care delivery to the ageing population” is a study prepared for the European Commission DG Communications Networks, Content & Technology by European Connected Health Alliance (ECHAlliance).

Click here to download the final report

Source: European Commission


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