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Area 1 Innovation and health

This programme aims to raise public awareness of issues related to the European dimension of health, the most recent European issues in the health field (development of ‘e-health’ and ‘m-health’), applicable regulations and finally issues related to the ‘new European pharmaceutical policy’

The health sector is focused on innovation and is of significant economic importance equivalent to 10% of the European Union’s GDP (healthcare personnel will account for 8% of jobs in the European Union in 2020).

As a more specific area of study, the chair will focus on technological innovation in health, especially e-health. The development of information and communications technologies (ICT) applied to health is set to play a vital role, particularly in the field of healthcare in the context of increased healthcare spending, an ageing population and a lack of healthcare professionals, and is one of the Commission’s priorities. Many aspects related to innovative communications technologies (safety, data exchange, security and respect for privacy) come into play in mobile health applications. Furthermore, online health is one of the 5 priority areas for ‘the digital single market’ for which, according to the Commission [document COM (2016)176], European standardisation must be improved (a doctoral thesis on this topic is currently being supervised by Nathalie De Grove Valdeyron). The Internet of Things (IoT) (which includes health apps) has the potential for major innovation that could help address social issues such as the ageing of the population.
Apart from the benefit of this emerging technology, it creates legal issues that must be addressed. Yet, so far, none of the various existing European texts aim to resolve, in their entirety, the issues posed by the development of these new tools using digital, whether ‘e-apps’ (connected applications), online health services or operations related to the online sale of health products (legal value of online consent for e-apps, etc.). Healthcare professionals need legal clarification, as well as an awareness of this area of European law and its impact on their activities.

This area of study is also covered within the framework of health products : innovative treatments, while offering hope to patients, also pose major economic issues for the industrial sector in the European Union (as is also demonstrated by frantic restructuring, and the constant increase in the stock exchange listings of companies in the health products sector). It also raises the important issue of access to innovative drugs and treatments in terms of costs, ethics (for example, very expensive targeted treatments such as immunotherapy) and equality of access to drugs in Europe.
Broader consideration must be given to the role that ICT can play in the sustainability of health systems and, in this context, the role the European Union can play in combating inequality and exclusion in access to healthcare and treatment for the most vulnerable populations.
Expectations around telemedicine are high and its development confronts governments, patients and professionals with new issues (particularly the security of this new method of providing care). The search for interoperability of patient registries at European Union level (known in France as the ‘shared medical record’ or ‘DMP’) will facilitate the deployment of cross-border telemedicine but also requires, on the one hand, political will on the part of national governments to follow the methodological guidelines and recommendations adopted to date at European Union level and, on the other hand, the involvement and commitment of all stakeholders (healthcare professionals, patients, etc.). Both information and training are therefore essential in meeting these new challenges, and this is what the chair aims to provide.


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