eHealth Hub Blog

European funding programs. Where are we going in the eHealth research?

Horizon 2020 is the name of promising new EU program for R&D funding in Europe.

European funding programs. Where are we going in the eHealth research?

The health sector is part of one of the three pillars in which Horizon 2020 program is divided.

For some time now, R+D+i has begun to be on everyone’s lips, and not always positively. It is very often heard that society is not really committed to it, that it is useless, that it doesn’t come out of the laboratories… but it seems that things have started to change. Or at least that’s what is happening in Europe now.

Horizon 2020 is the name of promising new EU program for R&D funding in Europe. With figures that may seem astronomical (80,000 million euros for the period between 2014-2020), the aim is to promote innovation and cooperation among the different countries of Europe. But which is the main difference between Horizon 2020 and the previous programs? Mainly its interest in promoting innovation and a clear orientation to the market, which means that the presence of companies is nearly a necessity in all of the projects or ideas presented.

As published on the European Commission website, the main objective of Horizon 2020 is to ensure that Europe produces a global science, that barriers to innovation are removed and that cooperation between the public and private sectors in this area is facilitated. All this, together with the large amount of funds available for innovation have made Horizon 2020 the most fashionable European funding program nowadays.

The health sector is part of one of the three pillars in which this program is divided. In particular is part of the Social Challenges. Just in the first two years of Horizon2020, around 1.2 billion euros have already been invested in the work program “Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing”, whereas the total budget for these 7 years is more than 7.5 billion euros.

With all this, where we should go if we want to innovate with European funds in health? Or what is the same, which are the interests of Europe in health research? Well, clearly to its joining with the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), ie, toward the eHealth.
In fact, I recently read an article published by the European Commission about the positive impact that these ICTs that are continuously evolving, have on the health sector. In particular, novelty lines such as as Big Data or Cloud services may result in more efficient and safe sanitary systems yet with lower costs. All of these leads ultimately to a higher customer satisfaction.

In particular, Europe defines its own objectives within this eHealth. Among them we can find: to give citizens an online and securely access their own medical data, to define a minimum common set of patient data so they can be exchanged electronically between member of the EU and also to obtain interoperable and standardized systems without which the above statements would not be possible. In the end, Europe is moving towards the evidence-based medicine but always combining it with the newest and most modern technologies.

All of this makes it worthwhile to rethink the way in which health is understood, to be able to research on eHealth.
We need to look beyond conventionalism take risks when raising ideas capable of improving the performance of our health systems and that are oriented towards the technologies of the future.

However, to be able to find solutions adaptable to these new trends, a change in the mentality of both, the future users and ourselves, is needed. Thus, we will be able to anticipate to the real needs of a world, the eHealth on, which moves with the same velocity that the change of the ICT.

While it is true that in other countries, such as USA they go one step ahead, Europe has finally realized that it is worth investing in this sector. Europe has realized that it is worth investing in eHealth Innovation.

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