The Brussels Region’s eHealth strategy supports the emergence of products and services that use digital technology to improve the lives of both patients and healthcare workers. Like the regional smart city, the eHealth programme interconnects the various players in order to encourage innovation.
Health and the smart city
Health and the smart city
Can smart-city solutions benefit the health of its residents? Of course: by encouraging the application of information and communication technologies (ICTs). These technologies, which are collectively known as e-health, take the form of mobile applications, networks for the exchange of data or medical information, remote diagnostic and consultation tools, etc.
To develop in practice, these solutions also require cooperation between many players: patients, healthcare professionals, the authorities and the companies that create the system. This means deconstructing the barriers between players, just as the smart city decompartmentalises administrations and has them communicating with each other to create innovative services.
eHealth Brussels, an innovation accelerator
In short, the purpose of eHealth Brussels is to speed up the supply of technological solutions for patients and the healthcare sector in the Brussels Region by supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the area of e-health.
To achieve this goal, a community of ideas and forces is being set up to build an environment conducive to the development of the e-sharing of health data and which benefits the care received by patients. More specifically, it comprises the following measures:
- development and setting-up of a genuine e-health culture in the Brussels Region;
- support for the emergence of new technologies in the area of healthcare;
- conversion of the potential of e-health into actual projects;
- ensuring the visibility of the tools and services available in the Brussels Region in order to implement the project, whatever its degree of maturity, via a website, www.e-sante.brussels;
- improve the circulation of information between public bodies, the digital industry and project carriers;
- within the action plans of each partner, identification of e-health initiatives that can be jointly developed to increase synergies and improve the impact of these initiatives as well as their visibility.
Besides the Brussels authorities, four healthcare and digital players are actively engaged in the implementation of the Brussels eHealth strategy:
- Abrumet (the umbrella organisation of Brussels’ French- and Dutch-speaking GPs’ organisations as well as all Brussels hospitals, public and private);
- Agoria (the Belgian federation for the technology industry);
- Impulse (the reference regional public partner of Brussels enterprises);
- Innoviris (the Brussels Institute for Research and Innovation).
Brussels – fertile ground for e-health
The conditions in the Brussels-Capital Region are particularly favourable to the development of e-health technologies. On the one hand, the healthcare requirements of the population are changing fast, e.g. the challenges of an ageing population and the progression of chronic diseases need to be addressed. On the other hand, the region’s medical resources – in terms of hospitals and healthcare professionals – are abundant. It comes as no surprise, then, that Brussels’ e-health industry is flourishing: between 2013 and 2016, for instance, the number of companies operating in this sector increased by 50%.