Is mobile health finally becoming a reality in the Belgian professional healthcare market?
About a year ago, together with Frank Ponsaert and Vincent Dupont, I wrote an article on digital health possibilities in Belgium. Our aim was to inform anyone on possibilities, and not to use the argument of lack of legal framework, reimbursement or ‘we are not allowed to do digital health’.
Where do we stand now? Federal government has decided or is planning some new rules. mhealth in Belgium: What is the latest update?
First of all, outside healthcare, digital has definitely grown further to the new normal. Imec’s digimeter 2017 shows +93% of all Belgians has an internet connection; 77,7% has a smartphone and more than 60% of Belgians buys online. Many of us currently keep track of a huge amount of data about our health: 40% of Belgians already tracked their own health data in 2016. In 2017, 18,6% of Belgians used wearables to do so.
Next, a lot of general practitioners, specialists, pharmacists, psychologists etc. have brilliant ideas for digital care. They are struggling with how to do so and what steps to take to make the change.
There is plenty available on the market for those who want start providing digital care to their patients.
Below is a shortlist of currently (fall 2018) applicable digital health actions in Belgium. I put them alongside features which are not yet possible and indicate the expected timeline. As a health care provider and patient, it is useful to focus on what is possible and why.
|POSSIBLE fall 2018||NOT YET POSSIBLE|
|Booking and managing online appointments with a healthcare provider or group practice||Booking and managing online appointments with multidisciplinary care providers in a care pathway|
|2) Consultation and patient follow-up|
|Remote consultation for first contact and e-prescriptions||Reimbursement code: there is no nomenclature code yet for digital contact and advice BUT: this is expected by spring 2019|
|Remote consultation in the context of patient follow-up and e-prescriptions|
|Recommending and prescribing apps to your patient (only as a formality) and using them together||structured reimbursement model for medical apps is decided and will start as from the end of october 2018. Applies to all medical apps, Belgian and international.|
|AND: reimbursement of prescribed apps has started by sick funds in 2017: Partena was the first to decide to reimburse heart-app Fibricheck|
|Monitoring and patient follow-up using apps for heart rate, blood pressure, wound healing etc.||“App pharmacy” for the healthcare provider (but will be realised in the future)|
|3) Electronic patient records and data sharing|
|Online consultation between healthcare professionals by e-mail and using the ehealth box, Skype consultations or similar econsult tools|
|Mobile data sharing between healthcare professionals||Digital consultation of entire patient record (neither for the care provider or the patient)|
|Provision of access to the patient’s electronic health record and cooperation (data sharing with the patient) + transmission of digital data from an electronic health record to the patient with mijngezondheid.be||make notes and communicate with your doctor through mijngezondheid.be
BUT: expected in spring 2019
|Entry of health data by the patient (or app used by the patient) into an electronic health record held by the general practitioner or other healthcare provider||patients inserting cloud-based medical data from apps into the PHR/patient viewer mijngezondheid.be
BUT: expected in spring 2019
|4) Testing and diagnosis|
|Testing and collaboration in research for new tools|
|Mobile DNA analysis and analysis of body fluids such as blood, urine etc. using an app||Information exchange with the general practitioner/health care provider|