Government encouraging the use of eHealth (telehealth)
The Dutch government wants to encourage the use of digital applications for healthcare and support. Since the coronavirus crisis, smart solutions – from personal blood pressure monitors to apps that monitor health and activity – have become more and more important in everyday care.
The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) is working on new, measurable goals for the take-up of eHealth, which it will present in 2021.
The government is encouraging the expansion of eHealth and is taking the following action to achieve its goals:
Promoting eHealth services
Many smart healthcare solutions already exist but these could be used more often in daily care. For example, a medication management app can help you keep track of the medication you need to take. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) wants to make these digital healthcare solutions more widely known. The website Zorg van Nu (eHealth Now) showcases many of the eHealth options already available to patients, healthcare providers and informal carers. These include apps for getting in touch with your family doctor (GP), or assistance that enables you to stay in your own home for longer. To find out more about digital healthcare solutions, read the brochure (in Dutch) on this subject.
eHealth Rally for healthcare organisations
Dutch eHealth Week, which was held over the past 4 years, has now been superseded by the eHealth Rally (Slimme Zorg Estafette). During this month-long, region-by-region event, healthcare organisations across the Netherlands showcase the many opportunities that eHealth offers.
Funding eHealth services
In 2021 the Dutch Healthcare Authority (NZa) is increasing funding for eHealth. This important development means that the costs of telehealth – for example an online consultation by video link – can be reimbursed in the same way as face-to-face healthcare services provided by a general practitioner (GP) or a medical specialist.
By making the regulations more flexible, the government has made it easier for GPs to assess a patient’s situation. In addition, speech therapists and medical specialists now have greater scope for providing therapy and care online. On its website for healthcare providers (de Wegwijzer), the NZa sets out all the details, including examples of different types of eHealth services and the rates paid.
The National Health Care Institute has drawn up an action plan to encourage the use of eHealth services. In addition, the Council of Public Health and Society has been advising the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) on telehealth after the coronavirus crisis.
Healthcare innovators who want more information or have encountered obstacles can go to zorgvoorinnoveren.nl (in Dutch) for practical assistance with implementation and funding.
Digital solutions for good, timely information exchange
Good, timely exchange of information between healthcare providers and with patients is vital to the quality of care. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) has set up a range of special programmes (VIPP) to speed up patient-professional information exchange in various sectors. It has also proposed a new law to facilitate electronic data exchange in healthcare (WEGIZ) .
More and more people want to be able to view and manage their health data. To make this possible, the government is taking steps to facilitate the development of a personal health environment (PHE). The MedMij website sets out the rules for safe electronic healthcare data exchange.
Requirements for good, safe eHealth delivery
eHealth services must meet certain requirements to ensure safe and reliable delivery. These include using information technology that is fit for purpose and properly integrated into work processes. The government has made agreements with various parties about this, for example in the Consultative Committee on healthcare information exchange.
Better digital skills
Healthcare professionals and members of the public who want to improve their digital skills in order to access eHealth services – for instance, using a smartphone or an iPad – can go to the website digivaardigindezorg.nl (in Dutch).
Healthcare institutions can also apply for a grant to train digicoaches. These are healthcare employees with digital knowhow who assist and train their colleagues.
The government encourages the use of digital resources at home
The government wants seniors and people with a chronic condition or disability to be able to stay at home for longer. To make this possible, home care organisations, nursing homes and other care providers can apply for a grant from the eHealth at Home Scheme (SET) to increase and sustain the use of eHealth applications. Tools like a medication management app, for instance, can help patients living at home adhere to their medication regime.
Extra funding during the coronavirus crisis
During the coronavirus crisis the health minister has released extra funding to improve access to eHealth through the SET COVID-19 and SET COVID-19 2.0 schemes. For details of all the government’s activities in this area, read the letter to parliament (in Dutch) on progress with innovation in eHealth and healthcare improvements.
Conclusions and recommendations from the 2019 e-Health monitor
The government closely monitors digital developments in the healthcare sector. The annual eHealth Monitor tracks the availability and take-up of eHealth services by patients and healthcare providers. To find out more, read the conclusions and recommendations of the 2019 eHealth Monitor (in Dutch). The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) will publish a new strategy and goals for the eHealth Monitor in 2021.