European Science Foundation calls for increased use of ICT in health and social care

19 February 2013

A new position paper produced by the European Science Foundation (ESF) calls for increased use of information and communications technologies (ICT) to improve delivery of health and social care services.

The paper, Developing a New Understanding of Enabling Health and Wellbeing in Europe, highlights the need for change in health and social care across Europe.

As social care and informal care are essential to improving health and preventing health problems, especially in an ageing population, there are still large gaps of knowledge in how best to organise this, and how best to combine it with health care. The position paper sees ICTs, which are increasingly deployed in service sectors to enable consumer customisation and better resource management, as the way forward for improved healthcare.

The paper presents a vision for a new model of integrated care support for citizens’ health through linked social and health care. It exposes current developments and challenges concerning demographic changes, ageing and established a concrete research agenda for ICT application focussing for instance on the relationship between patients and carers, the acceptability of ICT, the role of data, the organisation and legal aspects or the financing challenge.

Developing a New Understanding of Enabling Health and Wellbeing in Europe emphasises that, “Research programmes need developing at national and European level to stimulate a comprehensive and cohesive pattern of social science research into the means of achieving optimal ICT support as the enabler for a new integrated and partnership paradigm of health-related care.” It highlights a number of priorities for important advances to be made toward the harmonisation of healthcare delivery and informatics support:

  • integrated delivery of health care and social care support of individual’s health;
  • personalised care delivery including reasonable accommodation of individual choice;
  • ensure effective use of ICT applications based on user acceptability;
  • bring processes of consent, delegation, representation, coordination and privacy into the electronic era;
  • ensure respect for and teamwork with formal carers and the informal care team;
  • ensure equity in an electronic era regardless of digital literacy, assets and connectivity;
  • examine stable, sustainable models of trusted infrastructure provision;
  • establish governance, authentication, management, and sustainability principles.

This position paper is an outcome of the European Science Foundation’s Exploratory Workshop ‘The Challenges of Developing Social Care Informatics as an Essential Part of Holistic Health Care’ held 21-23 July 2010 at Keele University, UK, with the participation of 23 international academics engaged in health care and informatics professions and disciplines together with legal, ethical, economist and patient interests.

The ESF Position Paper, Developing a New Understanding of Enabling Health and Wellbeing in Europe, is available online at:


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