On 20 May 2020 the European Commission organised a webinar focusing on the role of Digital Innovation Hubs and Reference Sites (EIP on AHA) in the Digital transformation of Health and Care in the EU.
This webinar was organised with a triple aim: it was an opportunity for the European Commission to present its plans for European Digital Innovation Hubs in the context of the new MFF and Digital Europe Programme. It also gave the floor for DIHs working in the Health sector and Reference Sites of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP on AHA) to demonstrate how they build and promote their health innovation eco-systems and their trustworthy digital solutions for supporting private and public, local and regional health facilities, needs and challenges, also in the context of the current Coronavirus pandemic. Lastly, the Commission presented the new H2020 Call on Medical technologies, Digital tools and Artificial Intelligence analytics, published on 19 May 2020.
The Communication on Digital Transformation of Health and Care in the Digital Single Market identified three main priorities:
- Citizens' secure access to their health data, also across borders
- Personalised medicine through shared European data infrastructure
- Citizen empowerment with digital tools for user feedback and person-centred care.
The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP on AHA) brings together government authorities, care professionals, industry and users across borders to scale-up and bridge the gap between seller and buyer, producer and user. The EIP-AHA has also set Reference Sites, which are regions, cities, integrated hospitals or care organisations working together with partners from industry, civil society, academia and government authorities, with the common aim to invest in innovation for active and healthy ageing and support the transfer and scaling-up of that innovation across the public and private health sector in Europe.
Since 2016, the Commission has funded Digital Innovation Hubs, also in the Health sector, which help companies improve their processes, products and services through the use of digital technologies. They also provide innovation services, such as financing advice, training and skills development that are needed for a successful digital transformation. In the future Digital Europe Programme, European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) will be funded in various sectors, including in Health. They will allow for a broad uptake of Artificial Intelligence, HPC and Cybersecurity, in both health industries (in particular SMEs and midcaps) and in public health administrations and authorities.
In the context of the Commission's response to the Coronavirus pandemic, on 19 May 2020 it published an H2020 Call on Medical technologies, Digital tools and Artificial Intelligence analytics aiming to quickly deploy new solutions using medical technologies, digital tools and artificial intelligence to increase our response capabilities to this coronavirus crisis, improve the recovery, and better prepare for future such crises or waves.
The webinar hosted presentations from Mrs Maritta Perälä-Heape from Digital Innovation Hub OuluHealth (Finland), Mr Daan Bultje from HANNN Reference Site (the Netherlands), Ms Irati Erreguerena from the Basque Reference Site (Spain), Dr Michael Obach from the Basque Digital Innovation Hub and DIH-HERO Initiative (Spain) and Mr Balázs Barta from am-LAB Digital Innovation Hub in Szombathely (Hungary).
The five presentations by DIHs and EIP on AHA Reference Sites brought much insight into their work and experience from different parts of Europe. On top of their common goal - namely, enhancing the deployment of digital technologies for better and more personalised health treatment and monitoring-, the different interventions also highlighted similar challenges, such as ensuring government support and financing. Some Reference Sites and Digital Innovation Hubs have already collaborate, enrich and help each other. Potential closer collaboration and enhanced exchange of best practices between the eco-systems built within the EIP on AHA Reference Sites and DIHs could contribute to their further sustainability and contribute to digitalisation of health and care on local, regional, public and private level, across the EU.