Interoperability has been identified as one of the greatest challenges in healthcare IT. It is defined as the ability of organizations to share information and knowledge, by means of the exchange of data between their respective IT systems, and is about bringing to life fruitful collaborations between different healthcare environments, with electronic means.

With this in mind, the eHealth Interoperability Conformity Assessment for Europe (EURO-CAS) project launched on 26 January 2017. With a budget of €1 million (approximately $1.1m), it is one of the projects being funded under the European Union’s (EU) Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.  The launch of this project shows the EU’s recognition that eHealth has become increasingly important within healthcare, and that the use of such technologies needs to be streamlined.

The aims of the project are two-fold:

  1. to develop models, tools and processes to enable an assessment of the conformity of eHealth products with international, regional and national standards.
  2. to provide a method for manufacturers of conforming technology to demonstrate that conformity to the public. As set out in previous posts, a key concern with the proliferation of apps and eHealth products is how to demonstrate to patients and payers that they are safe, effective, and protect patients’ privacy. The hope is that the project will address these concerns and promote the adoption and take-up of eHealth products, and the use of the various standards that are being developed.

These aims will be achieved through the development of the ‘CAS’ scheme by a consortium led by IHE-Europe, and consisting of EU member state representatives, experts and international associations. Six ‘work packages’ have been set up to deliver the project, each focusing on discrete aspects of the project:

work packages

Fig 1: https://www.euro-cas.eu/work-packages

The project’s key deliverables (and corresponding timelines) have also been outlined, with the final scheme to be presented to the public in November 2018.

The overarching plan behind EURO-CAS is to pave the way for more eHealth interoperability in the EU. The project will build on the findings of a series of EU-funded projects concerning eHealth interoperability over the past years. The scheme also aims for consistency with the ‘Refined eHealth European Interoperability Framework’, which identified the importance of interoperability for eHealth to be truly useful in healthcare, and was endorsed by representatives from all EU member states in 2015.

EURO-CAS states that it is “committed to transparency and openness”. Interested parties are invited to partake in project events, to engage through the project’s Twitter channel (@EURO_CAS), or LinkedIn group, or to provide feedback on the deliverables that will be submitted for public consultation in due course.