National eHealth Strategy for Ukraine
Ukraine has taken its first steps towards developing national eHealth strategy. With the support of WHO/Europe, the World Bank and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), a workshop was held in Hlibovka in April 2016 to lay the foundations for developing the eHealth strategy.
Some 68 key stakeholders including representatives of Ukraine's Ministry of Health, the regional health authorities, academia and partner organizations gathered for a two-day meeting to address the key eHealth issues for Ukraine. These include questions such as:
- What needs can be met by eHealth?
- How can eHealth be used in Ukraine?
- How does eHealth fit into an overall health reform strategy?
Progress has already been made in eHealth in Ukraine. There are various registries at the national and regional levels in Ukraine, such as a cancer register, a register of patients who went through cardio-vascular surgical procedures, plus a register of HIV/AIDs, TB patients and others. Such initiatives will now benefit from further alignment and integration of efforts between different initiatives under agreed and transparent standards of eHealth development in Ukraine. In addition capacities will be streamlined for future work on eHealth-related matters at regional and national level.
Other issues on the agenda included looking at the experiences of other countries, standardization, data security and cross-sectoral collaboration.
A vision for eHealth
The Ministry of Health in Ukraine already has a vision for eHealth development, with an eye on improving:
- patient safety;
- medical services quality;
- medical care accessibility;
- patient rights and opportunities; and
- medical care continuity.
Clayton Hamilton, leader of the eHealth and Innovation Unit at WHO/Europe, said: "eHealth is a key component in improving the quality, safety and cost-effectiveness of health in Ukraine. All the elements are now in place and the time is right. All we need is good co-ordination and hard work and Ukraine can embrace all the benefits eHealth can bring."
The work of the WHO project supporting the health reform in Ukraine, funded by SDC, is actively linking all areas of reform activities into the eHealth development.
Next steps in eHealth
As a result of the meeting several next steps have been identified. Upon the request of the Ministry of Health, WHO is supporting study tours for Ministry staff members to receive hands-on knowledge and exchange of information on the development and implementation of the national eHealth plans and activities in the neighbouring countries. In the longer-term, the Ministry of Health is leading on the design of the action plan that, relying on the findings of the workshop, will identify milestones and timelines to prepare a comprehensive eHealth strategy for Ukraine.