28th February 2020
Portuguese report on telemedicine by EIT Health Think Tank is available.
The 2019 EIT Health Round Table Series took place in various locations across Europe. Portugal was selected as the location for the InnoStars Round Table Meeting which took place on 19 September 2019 and saw participation from key stakeholders involved in the innovation pathway in Portugal including healthcare providers, innovators, and regulatory and reimbursement bodies. Each EIT Health region chose to focus on an innovation type relevant to the local context – InnoStars selected telemedicine, which refers to the digital solutions aimed at improving patient care remotely to extend the reach or automate the work of healthcare services.
“The newest report of EIT Health Think Tank, a European forum for experts and thought leaders shaping the future of healthcare, summarizes main conclusions from the Round Table discussion on the Portuguese state of Telemedicine, its possible optimization process and propositions of actionable recommendations. Portugal is getting really strong on the European map of healthcare innovations, also thanks to EIT Health Community that is present here: Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Norte, Centro Hospitalar Universitario de Coimbra, University of Coimbra, Glintt, University of Lisbon or IPN, together with other organizations, talents, start-ups are creating strong ecosystem that is source of new innovative ideas and healthcare projects”, underlines Nuno Viegas, Business Creation and Regional Manager for Portugal at EIT Health InnoStars.
The whole report is available here.
Twenty years of Portuguese telemedicine
Portugal has been involved in telehealth since 1990. From 2006, telemedicine services have been used inside the Portuguese National Healthcare System and are reimbursed similarly to the in-person services. In 2013, the National Health Ministry defined specific goals for using IT to increase the reach to the national healthcare system. In October 2016, the Portuguese Government created the Centro Nacional de TeleSaúde (CNTS) as an entity to further promote the adoption of telemedicine inside the healthcare system. According to the latest survey from 2019, prepared by Glintt, Global Intelligent Technologies (one of EIT Health InnoStars Partners), 87% of public hospitals are now using telemedicine, only 44% of healthcare professionals are motivated to use it. In addition, as the research reveals, there is still a visible lack of know-how and adequate IT infrastructure in this field. However, 64% of consumers say that it is convenient to have access to virtual health. This makes it possible to define a clear trend toward the development and adoption of digital health solutions. According to Health Europa, in 2019, the Portuguese Ministry of Health introduced PENTS (National Strategic Telehealth Plan), whose aim is to harmonise telehealth across the country by scaling up good examples and maximising their impact.
Patient empowerment through telemedicine
According to Health Europa, the main goal of the National Strategic Telehealth Plan is to give patients power through telemonitoring. The strategy is based on the concept of including input from fifty institutional stakeholders and experts across the health system. Moreover, the information and advice will be also gathered from Saude em Dialogo – Portuguese platform which combines fifty-two patient associates. In consequence, it allows for patient contribution, which is one of the most important factors in shaping the future oh telemedicine in Portugal.
„There is a need for increasing the awareness about this phenomenon that patient can contribute to innovation. They have not only ideas but they can do a prototype, and with the help of engineers and other people, they can develop very interesting products, so this party is crucial, and try to put the patients into the equation, when talking about innovation. Now we are discussing patient empowerment – when it comes to the self-management of the disease, in innovation too, patients can be very important players” – said Helena Canhao, Head of the EpiDoC Research Unit in Epidemiology and Clinical Research, during the 2019 EIT Health Think Tank Round Table in Portugal.
According to Health Europa, telemonitoring has become an insightful path for patient empowerment across Portugal. Various digital tools are already available on the market: e.g. Citizen Area (RSE Area do Cidadao), an online platform which allows patients to get access to their health records in electronic form, to book appointments with a GP and to check their vaccination card. Recently, the Portuguese government has launched a special programme focused on chronic diseases which enables telemonitoring for 556 patients so far.
The video summarizing the meeting is accessible here.
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