From July 12 through August 8, 2008, more than 200 global leaders in health care, technology, finance, policy, and government gathered together to share ideas on eHealth, the use of information and communications technology to improve health systems. Sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, and held at its Bellagio Center in Italy, the conference, entitled “Making the eHealth Connection: Global Partnerships, Local Solutions,” explored such topics as public health informatics, interoperability and standards, access to information and knowledge-sharing, eHealth capacity building, electronic health records, mobile telemedicine, unlocking eHealth markets, and eHealth policies. The goal of the conference was to discover ways to leverage eHealth to advance health services worldwide, particularly in under-resourced or developing countries.
Discussion at the conference led to a consensus on goals and priorities for the development and implementation of global, regional, national, and local eHealth systems. These recommendations were consolidated into the Bellagio eHealth Call to Action, an expression of the commitment of stakeholders to improving global health care through eHealth solutions. Supporters of the Call to Action agree to work together to improve the quality, access, affordability, and efficiency of health care through better eHealth solutions. Some specific areas of recommendation include the following:
- Policy Issues: Setting global agendas for eHealth implementation and policy discussion; encouraging governments to adopt a culture of eHealth interoperability based on open standards; increasing intergovernmental endorsement of and consensus on eHealth issues through a Global eHealth Compact.
- Collaboration and Networking: Creating an online resource to share eHealth content, methods, and technologies; supporting the development of collaborative action platforms; creating internet portals for information sharing on eHealth among stakeholders, including health care workers, researchers, educators, policymakers, providers, and donors.
- Knowledge and Capacity Building: Identifying and supporting existing centers, and creating new centers of health informatics to improve knowledge management and the dissemination of health information; increasing collaboration among health informatics centers and eHealth training and research centers to create a global community of professional practitioners and scholars; developing and disseminating educational resources at all levels.
- Metrics, Tools, and Templates: Creating and implementing strong assessment and evaluation tools for evaluating interoperability, health workforce informatics capacity, and the impact of eHealth programs and initiatives; developing a blueprint for activities and programs in countries with limited resources.
The signatories of the Bellagio eHealth Call to Action “urge governments, multilateral agencies, development partners, provider organizations, academic, research, and public health institutions, health care workers, entrepreneurs, technology experts from the public and private sectors, and members of civil society to join this Call to Action” in an effort to achieve “better health for all in the 21st century.”