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First steps on the HEAL project

According to the European Commission eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020, one of the main barriers to the development of e-health is the lack of awareness, confidence and skills to find, understand and appraise online health information - and apply this knowledge to make their health decisions, as well to trust e-health solutions.

Since HEAL’s objective is to have an impact on individuals' usage of e-health applications and services in a way that will benefit their life situation and health, it was important to start the project by understanding exactly how these issues are perceived and experienced in each of the partner countries of this proposal. 

In order to better understand what are the common needs and what are the common points between the partner countries when it comes to opportunities to develop e-health competencies, an overview of the state of the art (Desk Research) and a deep interviews (Field Research) were conducted in each country. The first step was to understand what are the resources, initiatives and communities are already working in each country. As an example, in Switzerland, I-DAIR has identified that the challenge ahead is to bring quantitative and qualitative benchmarks together for digital health innovation to scale responsibly. It is also equally important to retain human agency as health assessments and interventions get digitized. Specifically, it is important to understand what kind of human-centered benchmarks are needed, how they should be developed and deployed and what could be the attributes of trusted and neutral platforms, acting as social stock exchanges for such benchmarks.

A summary of the desk results in each country and a collective analysis was summarized in a Desk Research Report. 

The findings from the Desk Research allowed us to create a guided interview template to be used in the Field Research. A focus group interview was conducted in each country to better explore the different national realities.

In Switzerland, the focus group was conducted with four participants (3 participants work as healthcare providers _ osteopathy and physiotherapy; and 1 participant is a medical assistant). All participants work at the same medical Center. The clinic combines a medical imaging center and a pain treatment hub.  

Conclusions of FG in Switzerland

When it comes to health it is clear that “there isn’t one solution. Heath and the path to health is a process”. More communication, collaboration, and call for action/personal engagement/ownership are deeply needed. “We need to empower patients and professionals to share the responsibility of the treatment” in a way that promotes autonomy and trust in the digital health services and tools. 

They think that having more time and resources to communicate and work with patients is key. Time to create awareness and autonomy to patients should be reconsidered and replaced in health practices. To this end ehealth should be also rethought, as a set of practices and tools that allow doctors and patients to support and better organise their work together.

And the real question for us is : how sharing personal and community data can help in this direction? It is important to “understand to whom a patient's health records really belong. Overall, all patients should have access to all their medical exams. But after we share them, what happens with the ownership of the digital document?”. In other words, we need to give the power to decide what happens with their medical data back to the patients. Then the issue becomes “if you have the power and the control to decide on your own health, will you have good sense of your health and treatment state?”. It is clear that more training needs to be developed to support both patients and health professionals. 

In the beguining of next year, the project partners will be able to offer more training to Health professionals and patients in the following areas:

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