The key challenge of all European health systems is to improve the quality, availability, and access to their services. At the same time, the sustainability of present health and social care systems is endangered by the limited availability of financial, human, and other resources, as well as by the spread of chronic diseases among the young and the old, changing ratios of active and retired people, rising expectations of citizens and professionals. Information and communications technology (ICT) based solutions applied in the health sector, loosely defined as eHealth, can very effectively support the provision of integrated, high quality healthcare. All across Europe, integrated regional health information networks, standardised electronic health record systems, reliable and effective telehealth services, as well as personal systems for citizens to support and manage their health status outside of healthcare facilities are encouraging examples of the growing deployment of eHealth solutions.
For more than 15 years, empirica has been among the leading European and global institutes undertaking research and advising on the implementation of such eHealth systems and solutions. Its key asset is a team with a distinguished track-record of advanced research, ranging from roadmapping new eHealth RTD fields to concrete solutions for IST-based new models of health and care services. It has provided services to the European Commission, the European Parliament, OECD, WHO, European Space Agency, global eHealth industrial players, national and regional governments as well as health service providers. This work is based on a broad understanding of policy, strategic, clinical, business and socio-economic issues surrounding health A further focus is contributing to European as well as global long-term research endeavours, where empirica cooperates inter alia in the USA with Harvard Medical School, Stanford University, University of California San Diego, the American National Institutes of Health (NIH), and in Canada with the Universities of British Columbia and Victoria.
This experience includes the world-wide first broadband video telephony-project in this field (1989), a project which used analogue interactive cable TV (CATV) technology to care for the special needs of frail elderly. empirica was also involved in a (at that time) worldwide unique long-term randomised controlled trial of automatic home telemonitoring equipment for heart failure patients with 12 hospitals in three European Union Member States (2000 to 2002).
The company has extensive experience in the market validation of IST-based healthcare services and in studies of eHealth market trends and developments, including representative surveys of both industry decision makers and citizens. empirica has a strong track record in benefit-cost assessment studies, like the globally acclaimed eHealth IMPACT and EHR IMPACT studies, and related work, which focuses on the business case and investment decision perspectives alongside the socio-economic one.
Its staff regularly publishes in peer reviewed journals and is invited to give key notes or present papers at international conferences like the European Union High Level Ministerial eHealth/WoHIT conferences; Royal Society of Medicine TeleMed & eHealth, meetings of the European Union eHealth Working Group of Member State representatives, as well as national and international scientific and professional conferences, workshops, and symposia.