While there is much talk in the Czech Republic about the digitization of healthcare, the EU and especially the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are far way ahead. We are a country of patient registers (be they statutory ones or those maintained by expert societies), reporting care to insurance companies is digitalized and standardized, we are on a path to implement DRG (restart), we invite public tenders for eHealth infrastructure, and we have a national eHealth strategy portal. But getting Big data together to analyse and improve care is a problem. Getting an electronic statement of medical records is a problem. Sharing information between attending physicians is a problem. The use of modern IT solutions in health care is a taboo, with some exceptions that must come "from below" - from providers themselves. At least after 11 years, eRecept (electronic prescription) is not a big problem anymore (the laws conceived electronic prescription in 2007; and it has been known since 2015 that it will be mandatory from 2018).
The EU has taken a broadside approach. On its 25th anniversary, EMA - as a kind of a birthday present – published, in collaboration with Heads of Medicines Agencies, Big Data Taskforce Phase II report and 10 recommendations, which should unlock the potential of Big data in the healthcare segment. EMA recognizes the opportunities of increasing data collection across health systems and devices that can lead to a better understanding of disease, the effect of drugs, and the efficacy of medical devices in the health system. At the same time, it perceives the complexity and heterogeneity of not only the data itself but also its analysis. Yet it is not afraid to give such a project a clear and concrete framework, and instead of procrastination and maintaining the status quo, it offers a vision and commitment to take advantage of the technological capabilities of the 21st century.
When this project is implemented, it may be one of the greatest advances in health care. The potential is huge, and when there is will to go in this direction (and the money), we believe that it will redefine the way we provide care.
2nd December 2019