WP5 – Policy and Innovation. Short Technical Paper. Case Study: Overview of mHealth Policies in Portugal


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This paper has been jointly prepared by the ITU, WHO and Junta De Andalucía. It consists of four sections.

This paper starts by providing the context for the Policy Environment highlighting that the globalization and the technological boom has resulted in development of digital health, specially the practice of medicine and public health supported by mobile devices – mHealth. Modern patients are well informed and take a more active role in their health and illness management. Portugal started to work in mobile health interactions, which provided patients greater control over their health and well-being data, while ensuring privacy and security of such Data and supported implementation of an eHealth policy. Over the years, the Ministry of Health in Portugal supported development of digital tools that seek to maximize health gains for citizens, create effective savings for the National Health Service (NHS), promote simplification of processes and procedures and increase proximity of the NHS to citizens in meeting their health needs. On October 17, 2016, the Portugal Council of Ministers approved the National Strategy for the Health Information Ecosystem 2020 (ENESIS 2020).

Following the principles of ENESIS 2020, the National Strategy for the Health Information Ecosystem (ENESIS 2022), designed for the three-year period from 2020 to 2022.  aims to promote the digital transformation of the health sector in Portugal, creating indispensable conditions for the evolution of the Health Information Ecosystem (eSIS). The principles that are the basis implementation of the Portuguese policy regarding the mHealth are also covered in this paper. Legal issues and constraints that shape up the policy regarding the mHealth issue were identified. The identification of the legal constraints led to the elaboration of some guidelines. A set of fundamental principles were considered, which guided the creation of different strategic aims and options, and the respective measures and guidelines. These represent cross-cutting values that should be known, understood, and applied by all eSIS entities in the implementation of the strategy.  the mHealth and eHealth context was analysed, with the purpose of understanding current health challenges and health-related information systems trends from a national and international perspective. To this end, different articles and digital health strategies from reference countries were analysed. About 22 individual meetings with stakeholders, namely the Ministry of Health, bodies of the Ministry of Health, representatives of professional associations, universities, and private groups. 3 workshops with stakeholders were also conducted. through these workshops, information about various aspects being analysed was obtained.

In the context of the highlighted Electronic Health Information exchange, the Portuguese National Strategy on mHealth interoperability (IOP) is mainly centred in the development and provision of a set of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) built according to international standards of IOP and semantics applied to health contents.  This paper covers the implementation, legal constraints and implications  of this approach.

Advice and recommendations covering the set of complementary legislative needs are also provided in this paper. The complementary legislative needs identified are necessary for the proper functioning of the Health sector, regarding information systems including mHealth.

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