The DISH European Reference Group A Chat With Health First Europe

4 February 2021

The DISH project aims at strengthening the innovation readiness and digital skills of health and social care staff in their everyday practice. To ensure that the very stakeholders for whom the DISH solutions are meant can provide feedback, the project has established a European Reference Group (ERG). Its members represent key stakeholders who are active and interested in the strengthening of health and social care workers’ digital skills, among which healthcare employers, doctors, nurses, pharmaceutical students, and many more.

ERG Members provide feedback and expert opinion throughout the project implementation phase and make sure that the proposed solutions are tailored to the actual needs of the stakeholders they represent. They also support the project as awareness multipliers reaching out to additional healthcare providers, enterprise clusters and educational institutions.

To introduce you to the Members of the DISH European Reference Group, we will be sharing an interview we had with them on their strategy to improve the digital skills of the health workforce. Our first interview is with Brandon Mitchener, Interim Executive Director of Health First Europe.

Could you please introduce yourself and the organisation you represent?

I am Brandon Mitchener, a French-American former journalist who has worked in European public affairs and communications roles for the past 20 years in sectors as varied as solar energy, agriculture and aviation. I stepped into the role of Interim Executive Director of Health First Europe in November 2020.

Health First Europe (HFE) is a non-profit alliance of patients, healthcare workers, academics, healthcare experts and the medical technology industry who have joined forces to transform European health care through innovative solutions. Since we believe that every European citizen should benefit from the best medical treatments available, we aim to ensure that equitable access to modern, innovative and reliable health care solutions is seen as a vital investment in the future of Europe. Our alliance was born in 2004 thanks to commitment of our co-Patrons and our members to build truly patient-centred healthcare systems in Europe.

What are your organisation’s priorities as they relate to the health workforce’s ICT literacy?

Our priorities are to raise awareness of best practice workforce skills and education, including through the HFE-EHMA Thematic Network on Profiling and Training the Healthcare Workers of the Future. We aim to build up an EU stakeholder network on this theme and drive the implementation of the conclusions of the Joint Statement.

What is your organisation’s strategy for implementing or supporting solutions to improve the health workforce’s digital and innovation skills?

Health First Europe is all about gathering best practice examples from our members and sharing these with decision makers in Brussels and national capitals. Because health care is a national competence in the European Union, the most that the EU can do is issue guidance and share best practices, and we help them do that by organising webinars and issuing reports on the three primary themes of Education & Training, Integrated Care and Prevention & Early Diagnosis.

How do you think that your involvement in the DISH European Reference Group can support your organisation’s strategy?

The DISH European Reference Group provides an opportunity for Health First Europe both to listen and learn from other members as well as share and amplify the experiences and lessons learned of our own members, for example in the context of the EU Health Policy Platform Thematic Network on training the healthcare workers of the future. The Commission has an ambitious agenda that includes numerous initiatives on digital and health and the intersection of digital and health. It is clear that those initiatives will only be successful if the people for whom the new technologies and tools are intended know how to use them effectively.


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