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Recap of track B3 - Health Cluster Europe during AAL Forum 2014

Placed by Lissa van der Heijden for e-Ucare at 2014-09-17

AAL Forum 2014 – Bucharest, Romania - September 11, 2014


Several European networks, projects and programs in health joined forces to organize a workshop during the AAL Forum 2014, with CORAL and the Province of North Brabant (NL) taking the lead. The aim of the workshop was to create regional alignment between all these initiatives as a coherent and solid regional strategy allows for much better and wider implementation of AAL technology once developed. 

Speakers from projects and programs like Health Cluster Europe, AER, Engaged, EIP AHA and AAL JP were invited to present their best-practices in the field of health and technology and give recommendations for better cooperation and sharing of knowledge and experiences on a European level. 

Several speakers pointed out that being active in EU networks and projects involves huge advantages for their own regions. Best-practices of other regions can be implemented in own regions and insights in other European markets can be gained. Also, best-practices of other regions can be used to convince local politicians of the need for change in local healthcare systems. In order to implement new tools changes in the legal system are needed as well. By showing the best-practices, politicians get more familiar with new tools and see the possibilities these tools have to offer. Márta Tatár of the Covasna County Council argues that politicians were more open for innovations in health after having got acquainted with best-practices from other regions.

An important remark pointed out by Peter Portheine of the Innovation Network for Active and Healthy Ageing (Cooperative Slimmer Leven 2020) and Health Cluster Europe was that “involvement of the market is needed to introduce innovations in a sustainable way”. Also, he called for alignment between regional and EIP AHA policies so as to generate leverage on investment and research and innovation. 


A difficulty experienced in working in a cluster was to involve SMEs, and micro companies in particular. The suggestion was made to involve them through contracting via larger companies.

Implementation of health innovations was another topic that was touched upon. The speakers were all convinced that involving the end-user in early stages of the development process can accelerate implementation. In health, understanding real people’s needs is of utmost importance. “People are not waiting for smart technology, they just want to eat”, Maurice Smith of Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group recalled. Therefore, developing health technologies is really about building relationships and gaining people’s trust. Besides, he recommended to engage with primary care physicians and get them telling the message to patients as 70% of the people is going to physicians in first instance. Only by doing this a real social movement can be achieved. 

According to Vesna Dolničar of the University of Ljubljana, the main barriers experienced in healthcare in Slovenia are not on an individual but on a structural level. She distinguished four main reasons why changes in health care are difficult: 1) lack of interdisciplinary cooperation and integration, 2) lack of a policy on ageing in general, 3) lack of clear business models and 4) lack of understanding of advantages of new tools. Often the effectiveness and advantages of new tools are not recognized. Collaborating with other regions can help overcome these challenges faced and to create more awareness. Additionally, events and sessions help to send the message through and to learn from benchmarks, results and action plans of other projects/regions. 

Final remarks included that the focus on a national level should not be lost out of sight and that a real effort from regions is needed to connect and exchange information.


Photos of the track can be found on our Facebook page.


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