With the end of the epSOS project in June 2014 (read here about the latest extension) the time has come to report and sum up the many outputs of the project.
The intention of epSOS has been to deliver and test building blocks to implement cross-border eHealth services in the future.
epSOS has achieved this in different ways:
Both a methodological process and durable implementations (termed building blocks) which form the basis for a longer term, pan-European approach to building interoperable solutions were delivered during the course of the project, the re-use / continuation of use is dependent on the commitment of the Member States.
To facilitate the realization of a National Contact Point (NCP) in January 2013 epSOS has created a second reference implementation of the technical infrastructure that connects the national eHealth system of a Participating Nation to the epSOS network. Since the first reference implementation (called NCP-in-a-Box), which has successfully been used by many participating nations, contains some proprietary software the new reference implementation, commonly referred to as OpenNCP, is since then available under the open source GPLv3 and Apache Software License.
Furthermore epSOS has introduced legal conditions under which an exchange of electronic medical information on a pilot basis was made possible (keyword FWA). For operation beyond the project, another more sustainable legal framework needs to be in place in order to enable the exchange of patient information across borders. This is something produced by the project, the recommendations of the project will however hopefully support the process towards a sustainable legal framework.
epSOS also supported the convergence of the eHealth progress in the EU by cooperating and providing the eHealth network with the epSOS data set of the Patient Summary and by working on the topic of semantic sustainability especially in the context of ePrescriptions. Thus epSOS helped the process towards interoperable healthcare in Europe.
During the Simulated Consultations carried out by the Evaluation Work Package the patients testified positively towards using the epSOS service and thought it was a useful tool for the health professional.
The health professionals attested good service aspects (understandable information, usability and response time) too and declared that it was a valuable service because language barriers were reduced. These results were also confirmed in the health professional interviews where technological aspects, personal skills (ability to handle computer applications) and context variables (different drug legislations among countries) were identified, among others. Moreover, the ease of use, user manuals or integrated systems were some of the facilitators stated. The table beneath shows some aspects to improve the service that were identified.
|Subcategories||Aspects to improve|
|Useability||Ease of use (built-in functions in the system) and user manuals
Better format of the Portal
System integration (epSOS system integrated in the local system to avoid switching between screens)
|Semantic||Developing specific diagnoses in some cases
Completing information: Data of prescription, translation of doctor's comments, etc.
Finally, physicians thought it was feasible to implement the tool in everyday clinical practice.
As a next step the different countries and governments may take up the building blocks and deliverables provided by the project and other initiatives to approach the overall goal of establishing an interoperable cross-border healthcare system across Europe.
epSOS deliverables, components and pilot infrastructure will further be used in projects and initiatives such as EXPAND e-SENS, STORK 2.0 (with its eHealth pilot based on epSOS infrastructure), the project on interoperability of patient summaries between EU-US, the new initiative under the ICT PSP Call on the “Sustainability of EU wide info-structure and collaborative governance” as well as in the eHealth network. From a sustainability aspect, the project results aim to be maintained and governed by these existing and upcoming initiatives, as well as on Member State level. Already, many initiatives (national and cross-border) base their work on epSOS results highlighting that the efforts in epSOS support public healthcare systems and cross-border exchange of information between them, within Europe and even outside of Europe.
epSOS will ensure that its deliverables are providing enough practical guidance and recommendations on how to make use of its results in a more long-term implementation.
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