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A government project to digitise healthcare is needed. More calls from Romanian experts at national and European level



© European Union, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a health system that can cope with paradigm shifts in remote healthcare, and telemedicine has been a great help to patients as well as doctors over the past two years. Thus, the digitalisation of the health system and health services is a topic of interest at European and national level. However, there is an uneven development of digitisation and e-Health solutions in EU countries in Central and Eastern Europe, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, for the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

National authorities, European decision-makers, representatives of the pharmaceutical industry responded to the initiative launched by and the Romanian Association of International Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (ARPIM) and held an open dialogue on the European opportunities for digitisation of the healthcare system in Romania, but also on the steps that our country needs to go through in the digital transition so that Romanian patients can benefit in the coming years from easy access to healthcare and telemedicine.

The main lessons learned by the European Union since the beginning of the pandemic and until now were discussed, as well as the need to accelerate the digital transition in the European Union’s health systems, but especially the importance for the Romanian authorities, regardless of political colour, to establish a unitary strategy for the digitisation of health, a strategy that coordinates the institutions in the field and is connected to European directives.

The digitisation of the Romanian health system must allow transparent access to reliable data which must be published in formats suitable for secondary use, for epidemiological or health policy analysis.

Topics of interest for Romania in the field of digitisation of health can be (non-exhaustive list): European Cancer Knowledge Database; European Cancer Imaging Initiative; Cancer Management Inequalities Registry in Member States; Connecting e-prescribing and electronic patient record systems between Member States; Connecting and exchanging information between reference centres for rare diseases; Participation in transnational registries in the field of chronic diseases; National/transnational remote medical consultations and second opinion in imaging or pathology; Evaluation of health apps for reimbursement, etc.

Develop a government project covering the key issues for digitisation in health, needed

Prof. Dr. Adrian Streinu-Cercel, President of the Health Committee of the Romanian Senate, calls for a government project covering the key aspects of digitisation in health: “To be an integrated system it has to start from one head, i.e. the Romanian Government. If we don’t decide what we want this digitisation to look like, it will be everyone with their own database, everyone with their own application.”

  • We have the opportunity to do a very good job from the beginning and for that we all have to sit around the same table, regardless of political colours, and discuss how we want this national digitisation programme to look like and how to integrate with other countries, if we want that.

Romania needs to establish a National Contact Point to align our country with European directives

Ștefan Busnatu, advisor for digitisation to the Minister of Health, set up a digitisation strategy for the health system a year ago, which unfortunately has not been integrated into the NRDP.

  • We need to establish a National Contact Point, which will deal with the whole digitisation component in order to be aligned with the Brussels directives and all the European reforms. The National Contact Point is a three million euro project, which theoretically has to be taken on by someone. At the moment the CNAS have sent the assumption from a coordination point of view. It is important to decide where it would be most coherent to create the National Contact Point in Romania for digitisation and digital transformation.

The time has come for telemedicine to offer patients a better quality of life, while giving doctors new tools

Adela Cojan, President of the National Health Insurance House, reviewed the latest national milestones for the digital transformation of Romania’s healthcare system. A Memorandum has been signed at governmental level for tripartite participation to access European funds for the development of the project “IT systems for connecting to the electronic health record the providers of paraclinical services, specialist outpatient, rehabilitation, home care, providers of clinical services, palliative, medical devices or emergency consultations at home”, being basically an extension of the electronic health record, which was initially designed only on family medicine and hospitals.

  • The societal and economic benefits of the widespread use of telemedicine are practically enormous. At the moment we are far from being fully in the middle of their use, but I believe the time has come for telemedicine to offer patients a better quality of life, while giving doctors new tools. It is a challenge, there have been reservations, but now in the areas where we have introduced remote consultations they have been widely accepted, which is why we have also extended them in the regulations for next year.

Lack of interoperability of databases in the healthcare system, one of the critical issues

Adrian Hatos, Chairman of the Committee for Science, Innovation and Technology in the Romanian Senate, says that one of the critical problems facing the entire public system in Romania, not only the medical system, but also the administration and education, is the interoperability of databases or the interoperability of data in general in the medical system, which makes it impossible to access and use data: “We have the possibility of datafication, big data techniques and remote communication in education or medicine. The problem in Romania is primarily institutional and human rather than technical.”

  • So far there have been public and European financial resources for digitisation. We need to look at the problem of working with so many database systems that cannot communicate with each other. We have the opportunity of RRF funding, but also the implementation of a governmental Cloud to force the creation or implementation of a data infrastructure that is unitary, standardised at national level, so that we can communicate in the various structures and take advantage of the opportunities that telemedicine offers.
  • The digital transition must also include changing the attitude of doctors and patients towards technology.
  • The Committee on Science, Innovation and Technology of the Romanian Senate can initiate legislation and support legislation in this area. It can initiate debates in the Senate on digitisation in health.

Patient registers, the most important thing today when it comes to digitising health

Felicia Ciulu Costinescu, Director, Medical Technologies Evaluation Directorate, National Agency for Medicines and Medical Devices of Romania (ANMDMR), says that digitisation of healthcare has become a necessity for facilitating the patient pathway in the healthcare system and has become more important in the context of the pandemic.

  • ANMDMR experts are active and present in Brussels working groups of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or the European Commission, including in task forces dedicated to digital transformation: “This concern comes from the need to provide EU patients with innovative solutions and emerging technologies. All this can only be achieved by transforming and optimising regulatory processes, improving centres of expertise, providing digital solutions and building an e-learning ecosystem. All of this requires investment over time, but the process has been started and will bring the benefits it was designed to deliver.
  • The digitisation paradigm is a complex one. Patient registries are the most important thing at the moment when we talk about digitising health. The need for these registries is even greater as very high-cost personalised therapies are knocking at the door. These registries will be useful when we want to have access to some data. Interconnecting them with both national and existing European health platforms. The main aim is to develop a common dataset to support the reimbursement decision as well as to support technicians to have easy access to medical data.
  • Digital technologies, intelligent data collection and integration are the present and the future for patient access to personalised, effective and safe treatments.

The leadership of the Romanian Digitisation Authority (ADR) gave details of the objectives of the RegInterMed project in its message to the expert meeting on 14 December. According to the ADR, in October the Ministry of Health put the specifications of the RegInterMed project out to public consultation.

  • The project will implement 100 disease registers for 18 specialities. These will be established separately during the implementation period. In addition, 4 specific registers will be implemented for the INSP (Register “reporting biocidal substances”, Drinking water quality register (RECAP), National operational computerised register of occupational diseases, Register on the management of waste resulting from medical activity).
  • It will have a working meeting on Wednesday 15 December with the new management delegated by the Ministry of Health for this project.

The European Commission is exploring the possibility of European patient registers, but the condition is that national registers exist in all EU countries

Cristian Bușoi MEP, Chair of the Industry and Research Committee of the European Parliament’s ITRE Committee, as the European Parliament’s rapporteur for the EU health programme, EU4Health, insisted that one of the priorities of this programme is digitisation in health at European level and the creation of the EU Health Data Space, which is an initiative of the European Commission that he supports.

  • We also advocated that money from this programme should fund interoperability between different e-health systems at national level, such as electronic patient registers to be interconnected and prescription, which is an e-health solution found in most European countries and this needs to be interconnected.
  • The European Commission is looking at the possibility of European patient registries, but the condition is that there should be national registries in all EU countries, at least for cancer and rare diseases where the number of patients is not so large, it would be easier to manage these patients. At European level, digitisation in health is an essential component. EU4Health can only give a general outline, just as the EU Health Data Space will create some rules for governance, for interoperability.
  • Romania needs to prioritise these projects in order to be able to use European funding.

Romania has all the necessary tools to digitise its health system and to offer Romanian patients European and quality conditions in terms of health and telemedicine. It is essential that decision-makers and politicians have forward-looking projects adapted to European requirements so that Romanian patients can benefit from the opportunities of the digital transition.

Diana Zaim este foto jurnalist, câștigătoare a Premiul Publicului la European Youth Event 2020, cel mai mare eveniment pentru tineri organizat de Parlamentul European. Absolventă a secției germană-portugheză în cadrul Universității din București, Diana urmează în prezent programul de master ”Relații Internaționale și Integrare Europeană” în cadrul SNSPA. Pasionată de promovarea valorilor europene, Diana este parte a comunității Model European Union, cea mai amplă simulare la nivel european a procesului decizional din cadrul Uniunii Europene.


MEP Vasile Blaga: EU will not recognise Russian documents issued in areas illegally occupied by Russia in Ukraine and Georgia



The European Parliament agreed by a large majority at its last plenary session in Strasbourg not to recognise travel documents issued by the Russian Federation in the illegally occupied territories of Ukraine and Georgia, said MEP Vasile Blaga on Monday.

MEPs agreed by 540 votes to 6 with 36 abstentions on a mandate for negotiations with the Council on a legislative proposal on the non-recognition of travel documents issued by Russia in the occupied Ukrainian regions and the so-called breakaway territories of Georgia for visa purposes or when crossing the EU’s external borders.

At the same time, MEPs amended the Council’s proposal and underlined the right of citizens from conflict zones to flee the war and their right to enter the European Union for humanitarian reasons.

“The illegal annexations in Ukraine and Georgia require clear EU decisions on the non-recognition of documents issued by Russia in those territories to be used for travel within the European Union,” said Vasile Blaga, EPP & NLP MEP, member of the LIBE Committee, which handled this dossier in the European Parliament.

“The Russian Federation must understand that the European Parliament and the European Union will not compromise on these unacceptable aggressions. At the same time, the European Union must allow access to refugees from conflict zones, honest citizens fleeing war. The European Union must also take humanitarian cases into account and provide adequate support to refugees”, said the EPP MEP.

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Marcel Ciolacu: It is time for all decision-makers and political parties to support Romania’s Schengen accession on all fronts



© Marcel Ciolacu/ Facebook

The President of the Chamber of Deputies (România), Marcel Ciolacu, calls on the entire political class to support, in the coming weeks, through all channels and on all fronts, Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area.

“It is very important that during this period we are all united and act for our country. There is no room for pride and rivalry in this matter. My call is for all parties to use the contacts they have in their European political families to support Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area,” the PSD President said.

He also announced that at the Congress of European Socialists, where he will be present, he will support Romania’s accession to Schengen for the near future: “This is what I will do at the Congress of European Socialists, which will take place shortly in Berlin. My colleagues in the European Parliament are also holding daily talks with officials from other Member States to convince them to support Romania’s cause. I am convinced that the other parties can also contribute significantly to achieving a success for Romania.”

“We must not have any reservations in this fight for a strategic national objective, because justice is on our side. Romania has long met all the technical conditions for accession, and our country’s conduct in managing refugee flows from Ukraine and in securing export routes for Ukrainian grain shows that we fully deserve admission to the Schengen Area,” concluded Marcel Ciolacu in a post on his official Facebook page.

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MEP Vasile Blaga warns: A new rejection of Romania and Bulgaria’s integration into the Schengen area will create waves of euroscepticsim in the two countries



© European Union 2022 - Source : EP

MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) took part on 5th October, in the plenary session of the European Parliament, in the debate dedicated to Romania’s accession to the Schengen area.

“As a former Minister of the Interior, I was directly responsible for fulfilling the conditions for Romania’s integration into both the EU and the Schengen area. Romania’s integration into the Schengen area is a subject that concerns me and I treat it very personally”, said the MEP in his speech.

The MEP stressed that there are three main arguments why Romania should have been a member of the Schengen area for years: technical, moral and practical.

“There are three arguments that should lead to a quick decision on the integration of Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen area. First there is the technical argument, which should be sufficient, as it was sufficient for the other Member States that are already members of the Schengen area. Romania meets all the technical conditions for Schengen, and the war in Ukraine was a test for the EU’s external border, a test that Romania passed with flying colours. The second argument is the moral one: Europe has been teaching us the lesson of solidarity for years. Solidarity in the face of the war for refugees and migrants, solidarity in the face of the energy crisis. Romania has done its homework without comment. We have shown solidarity without reservation and not because anyone forced us to. We did it because Romanian citizens believe in these values. The question is: Is Europe capable of putting into practice to the end the lesson it is teaching? The third argument is a practical one that concerns the future of the European Union. This future is threatened by Euroscepticism and we see this more and more often in national elections. The future of the EU depends on how it treats the citizens of each Member State. Does not the refusal to take a legitimate decision on the integration of Romania and Bulgaria into Schengen create a wave of Euroscepticism in these two countries? Isn’t the lesson of Brexit enough?” said the Liberal MEP in his speech in the European Parliament plenary.

The initiative of the Social Democrats (S&D) group in the European Parliament, the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen area was once again debated in the plenary of the European Parliament.


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