A new report from the European Health Telematics Association has issued a report detailing a series of recommendations for achieving sustainable telemedicine services in Europe by 2020.

The ”Sustainable Telemedicine: paradigms for future-proof healthcare” report presents the current achievements and best practice examples drawn from a number of ongoing projects across Europe, as well as looking at the successes of some completed pilot projects.

EHTEL president, Martin Denz, said: “This emerging industry will not only have an enormous positive impact on the quality of chronically ill patients and elderly people but also alleviate pressure on national health systems and boost European economy by creating possibly millions of new jobs.”

Recommendations made in the report include facilitating change in everyday operations for healthcare professionals and patients and using patient-centred telemedicine to involve and engage professionals and patients in the overall e-health strategy.

The association also calls for a European support framework to be established to coordinate progress and future deployments of sustainable telemedicine.

Denz added: “As part of a sustainable health and social care in an ageing European society, EHTEL believes that a new type of health service industry, composed mainly of public and private sector small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is emerging in Europe.

“This emerging industry and new innovative health service professionals should focus on high medical quality for premium health services with a special emphasis on quality of life for citizens and patients.”

ETHEL says that SMEs should lead the change and establish a culture of interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration between different specialised medical fields.

Countries should formulate explicit national strategies, scenarios and business models for sustainable telemedicine, it adds.

Denz said:”I believe that SMEs have a major role to play in supporting the delivery of future health care through pro¬vision of care at home. This will not only directly contribute to the EU’s Lisbon agenda goals of creating more jobs and growth, but also to the implementation of the block’s Lead Market Initiative on creating innovative solutions for public services.”

EHTEL says its report demonstrates a close relationship between traditional health professionals and the IT industry, who are seeking to combine high medical quality with entrepreneurship and sound business understanding.

One member, German mobile phone firm Vitaphone’s chief medical officer. Harald Korb, said: “We are facing a dramatic increase of demand for our telemedicine services. In particular health insurance providers are seizing the occasion to support better and more efficient healthcare through embedding our integrated telemonitoring services for persons with cardiac risks and chronic diseases into their portfolios. Hence the usefulness and sustainability of our services is increasingly recognised.”