Magazine on Digital Health for Active and Healthy Ageing (AHA)
Policies, projects, initiatives, and the voice of experts in the field
Hicham Abghay, IDIH Coordinator
Welcome dear reader,

A substantial portion of our IDIH MAG May 2020 first edition relates to the ramifications of SARS-COV-2 virus on our social and business life and, most determinately, on our healthcare practice at a global scale. The rapid spread of the virus almost with blanket coverage, triggered still a diversified set of reactions throughout the globe, idiosyncratic to the respective region, but also here and there, poised on science-based evidence. Indeed, a quick glimpse at the recent prolific production of scientific publications and pre-prints demonstrates, on the one hand, large efforts to crack the COVID-19 diffusion machinery but, on the other hand, it divulges the very novel nature of this state of affairs in the middle of which all parties concerned seem to be confined in a way or the other. The concoction of placid restlessness, desperate ingenuity and purposeful determination prompted by long weeks of self-induced or voluntary quarantine and compulsion to struggle for the old normal, brought up an impressive compassion wave and deep fortitude aiming at tackling this universal challenge at all fronts, be it the falling ceilings of much at home office, the swept streets or depleted businesses. 
The elderly feature in this commotion a special element of care and attention. Challenges are not only loomed by gloomy skies, but also large opportunities and novel paths. Some of these that we would like to highlight are the myriad prospects for international collaboration beyond borders to join forces in defying hazards against humanity and the planet earth, as well as the use cases and good practices narrated by seasoned experts. We invite you to leaf through our first edition of IDIH MAG, enjoy the reading and get inspired by the one or other article made available for your kind contemplation.
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Here follow some extracts from the IDIH MAG.
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The “ERAvsCORONA” Action Plan of the European Commission
During an informal videoconference of 7 April 2020, Ministers responsible for research and innovation from the EU Member States supported the first 10 priority actions of the first ERAvsCorona Action Plan, which resulted from dialogues between the Commission services and the national ministries.
This first ERAvsCorona Action Plan  is updated regularly by the Commission services and national administrations with other R&I coordinated actions that can be taken in the short, medium and longer term, and it is based on the following principles: 
  1. Coordination of R&I funding against the Coronavirus
  2. Extending and supporting large EU wide clinical trials for clinical management of Coronavirus patients
  3. New funding for innovative and rapid health-related approaches to respond to coronavirus and deliver quick results relevant to society and a higher level of preparedness of health systems
  4. Increasing support to innovative companies
  5. Creating opportunities for other funding sources to contribute to R&I actions on Coronavirus
  6. Establish a one-stop shop for Coronavirus R&I funding
  7. Establish an ad-hoc High Level R&I Task Force on the Coronavirus
  8. Access to Research Infrastructures
  9. Research data sharing platform
  10. Pan-EU Hackathon to mobilise European innovators and civil society
The whole common European response to the coronavirus outbreak coordinated by the European Commission can be further explored and monitored by visiting the dedicated webpage

On 8 April 2020, the European Commission has updated the FAQ section of the ERA (European Research Area) Corona platform by publishing further information on the management of the Covid-19 emergency in Horizon 2020 projects and the significant effects on project activities. The new FAQs published the collected the questions sent by the H2020 National Contact Points (NCPs) on Legal and Financial aspects at the extraordinary NCP meeting held on April 1st. Many issues at stake concerning the management of the current crisis: e.g. flat rate scheme, timesheets, force majeure, deliverables, duration of the project, etc.

AI-ROBOTICS vs COVID-19 initiative of the European AI Alliance, a multi-stakeholder platform which complements and supports the work of the AI High Level Expert Group of the European Commission by preparing draft AI ethics guidelines, and participating in a broad and open discussion of all aspects of Artificial Intelligence (AI) development and its impacts.
The AI-ROBOTICS vs COVID-19 initiative aims to collect ideas about deployable AI and Robotics solutions as well as information on other initiatives that could help face the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. A unique repository - easily accessible to all citizens, stakeholders and policymakers – will become part of the common European response to the outbreak of COVID-19.
This article on IDIH MAG full version adds details on
  • Initiatives in R&I to tackle COVID-19 by the European Commission, and projects funded;
  • Mobilization of funding from Horizon 2020 and the industry through IMI;
  • €80 million of financial support to CureVac  to scale up development and production of a vaccine
  • The Call for start-ups and SMEs by the European Innovation Council (EIC)
  • The European Commission Recommendation to support exit strategies through mobile data and apps.
Other articles that you may find in this section in the IDIH MAG Full Version:
 Focus on COVID-19
  • Covid-19 and the elderly: the Italian case-study.
  • The role of Japan as a global leader in super-aging and the initiatives of the Geriatrics Society of Japan to prevent elderly’s “inactivity” during the Coronavirus outbreak
  • How China is facing COVID-19 using IT  
  • Canadian company deploys a New COVID-19 Electronic Screening Tool for Long Term Care
  • Canada allocates C$1B to boost COVID-19 research
  • Other relevant initiatives at an international level to face COVID-19
 A collection of the works of the expert groups of the European Commission dealing with eHealth
 AI and Health. The view of Roberto Viola, Director General of DG CONNECT. Some extracts from the interview conducted by EIT Health
 An overview of EU-funded eHealth R&I projects by DG CONNECT
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Interview with Gian Marco Revel, Associate Professor at Università Politecnica delle Marche
With an experience in 11 H2020 projects, 3AAL projects, and several other initiatives at national and regional level in the field of Smart Building and Cities, Prof. Gian Marco Revel has specific expertise in engineering for Ageing in Place also through Digital Health solutions.
He is Associate Professor of Mechanical, Thermal Measurements, Diagnostics and Experimental Techniques at the Department of Industrial Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at Università Politecnica delle Marche, and Deputy Rector for European Research at the same University.

(...) Q: What do you consider to be the main challenges related to digital health and active and healthy aging in your country?
A: For what concerns my fields of expertise and experience, a particularly challenging scenario is already outlined by the design and development of age friendly environments. Standards and a reference scheme for age friendly environments are needed, integrating a multidisciplinary and bottom-up approach at policy level that may ensure real accessibility and fruition of infrastructures and buildings based on health and wellbeing. This may be possible only through a real synergy between the industrial, health and ICT communities, as well as final users, covering the whole value chain, from the conception to the delivery of facilities.
Moreover, new business fields related to this issue and a need for new professional skills and competences are now emerging. Therefore, sector skills gaps certainly represent another concrete challenge for both the Health and industrial component.
Homes4Life - a project in which I’m taking part as Università Politecnica delle Marche,  run by a multidisciplinary group of nine partners from five EU countries under the coordination of TECNALIA (Spain) - is developing a Certification Scheme on Age-friendly homes, presented the project at the AgeingFit conference in Nice, France, on the 29th of January 2020.
A huge share of the building stock is not adapted to permit older persons to age in place. Even today’s new constructions are often not prepared to support health and wellbeing over the life course. Homes4Life addresses this challenge by contributing to the development of a new European certification scheme.
The scheme will be based on an inspirational and realistic long-term vision of people’s needs and requirements in a holistic life-course approach and help develop better living environments integrating construction and digital solutions where this is beneficial. (...)

Q: Who do you consider to be the most important players and networks in the field in your country/region?
A: For what concerns eHealth addressing Ageing Society, a not formal network of Italian academic institutions is  to be considered leading at national level and involves UNIVPM  - University Politecnica delle Marche, UNIPI - Università di Pisa, POLIMI – Politecnico di Milano, UNIGE – Scuola Politecnica, Università degli Studi di Genova. Moreover, the Cluster “Tecnologie degli Ambienti di Vita” (Technologies for living environments) has also to be mentioned as National technological cluster, recognized by the Ministry of Education, University and Research, engaging public and private entities that operate on national territory in a sector considered strategic for our country, as well as relevant for industrial research, training and technology transfer. Finally, as leading business actors in this fields, I can mention Engineering and Dedalus.
Concerning my field of experience, I am coordinator of the Material & Sustainability Committee. As part of the European Construction, built environment and energy efficient building Technology Platform ECTP, the Materials & Sustainability Committee brings together ECTP stakeholders interested in “Materials and Sustainability”.  The Committee provides an efficient platform for its members to develop and pursue construction material and sustainability related RDI topics that help fostering sustainable construction in urban environments.
As part of its key activities the Material and Sustainability Committee developed and regularly updates a common Vision and Strategic Research Agenda for all construction material stakeholders. In this regard, the Committee considers health and safety, and user comfort among the key societal challenges that clearly need to be addressed over the next decade and where innovations in construction materials will make a difference.
This article on IDIH MAG full version adds details on
  • A look on policies from the point of view of the expert
Other articles that you may find in this section in the IDIH MAG Full Version:
 The work of the D4 Action Group of EIP of AHA - European Innovation Partnership in Active and Healthy Ageing
 The state of health in the EU and the digitalisation of health promotion
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The Online Medical Care System "YaDoc" 
Japan has become a global leader in super-aging, a status ascribed to nations where at least 21 percent of citizens are aged 65 and older. That rate reached 28% in 2018.
In terms of healthcare, however, a new appreciation of longevity has motivated the government to begin re-shaping its medical system based on data and digital-first products.
The target is to provide more personalized healthcare services by transferring medical records from paper to digital, and feeding this data into AI analytics tools for better and more cost-efficient care.
Japan is also putting more effort into robotics, sensors and high-end ICT services to create patient monitoring systems that minimize human and financial burdens. The country has among the best patient logs in the world, as workers undergo mandatory medical checks on an annual basis. Yet until now over 70% of doctors used paper records. Pooling patient data into a single digital space will not only make record-keeping more efficient, it will give individuals more control over their health planning.

As an example of this effort, the Online Medical Care System "YaDoc" is an ICT system that complements existing face-to-face medical examinations by enabling doctors to monitor chronological changes of patient conditions, have patients complete medical information forms and conduct real-time video consultations all on an online basis. Used alongside conventional medical examination, "YaDoc" provides doctors with a clearer understanding of patient conditions to enable greater accuracy for diagnosis and treatment. The system is also expected to assist patients who find it difficult to make frequent doctor visits but still need constant medical treatment for lifestyle-related and other diseases. It will also help the elderly who require assistance walking as well as extremely busy individuals from interrupting or even stopping medical treatment.
What is becoming clear, according to global experts, is that digital innovation in the medical professional is not possible without collaboration. In a way, it is only natural given how modern care works with several specialists from different fields involved.
Other articles that you may find in this section in the IDIH MAG Full Version:
 i-PROGNOSIS wins Ageing Fit Innovation Pitch
 Open Market Consultation on innovative ICT-enabled monitoring solutions to improve health status and optimise hypertension care
 First robots that can assist older people and adapt to the culture of individuals;
 3 Pilots to experiment personalised care plans for complex multimorbid patients, supported by ICT tools;
 European Innovation and Knowledge mHealth Hub: the first European hub for mobile health; an online information hub which provides descriptive and support materials on all existing platforms in the Active and Healthy Ageing Domain;
 Identifying the specific needs and desiderata at each life stage;
 The use of social media for health promotion: a synthesis of the literature by the Service universitaire de promotion de la santé de l’Université Catholique de Louvain.
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Experts, users and policy makers
In order to respond to the challenge of ageing societies in an open and collaborative way that allows for mutual learning, IDIH focuses on an expert-driven and inclusive approach through the Digital Health Transformation Forum, that will allow for a targeted engagement of relevant stakeholders.
Established through IDIH as a long-lasting and expert-driven umbrella mechanism to foster collaboration in the field of digital health between the European Union and five Strategic Partner Countries (Canada, China, Japan, South Korea and the USA), the Digital Health Transformation Forum will ensure the involvement of research, technology, innovation and policy stakeholders, as well as user associations. A continuous dialogue and the engagement with these stakeholders in all target countries and in Europe will be kept throughout the whole project duration (36 months; project end: April 2022). 

The Expert Groups (EGs), involving consortium members and external experts, are a core element of the IDIH project. External experts have been selected via an open call, including the EG Chairs. The call for application for experts from the EU and Strategic Partner Countries (Canada, China, Japan, South Korea and the USA) is now officially closed. To apply, potential Experts were asked to send their CV with a short explanation on why they were interested in becoming an Expert Group member or Chair, and the indication on which of the 4 focus areas they were interested in:
  1. Preventive care - Focus: Early diagnosis and detection;
  2. Integrated care - Focus: Using new technologies to redesign, coordinate and integrate health and social services and place citizens, patients and seniors at the centre of health systems;
  3. Independent and connected living - Focus: Tele-monitoring via smart home and living technologies;
  4. Inclusive living - Focus: Helping the elderly feel more connected socially/ healthy living.
The four Expert Groups (EGs) working within the Digital Health Transformation Forum will work on the four strategic topics in order to investigate collaboration pathways in digital health between countries and regions, including potential funding schemes.
Close exchange will take place with policy makers (namely Funding Agencies dealing with Digital Health and AHA - Active and Healthy Aging, from the EU and the Strategic Partner Countries) on a regular basis and in occasion of key project progresses, in order to ensure that:
  • the priority collaboration fields topics discussed by the Digital Health Transformation Forum are in line with the priority fields from each Strategic Partner Country and Europe;
  • funding agencies are providing insights and feedback to the work of the Digital Health Transformation Forum and remain;
  • potential funding schemes are identified in synergy with policy makers, to be gathered, then, in a guidebook for RTI stakeholders, to get them prepared to effectively respond to AHA global challenges.
In particular, Policy makers will take part in 2 Programme Level Cooperation meetings (PLCs) - back-to-back with 2nd (June 2021) and 3rd (March 2022) EGs meetings. In these occasions, Funding Agencies from the Strategic Countries will meet with the relevant Commission officials, and will give feedback and input for the development of the successive iterations (D3.6/D3.7) of the report Towards an international collaboration in digital health, addressing Funding Agencies/policy makers, that will include, as the main expected result of the project, a Roadmap for future collaboration in priority areas, pointing to suitable potential funding schemes between the EU and the five Strategic Countries, and providing clear suggestions per topic of interest.
Close exchange will take place also with the most relevant representatives of “end users” of the digital transformation of health and care, in order to ensure that “patients” will be at the heart of IDIH investigations and outcomes.
All Users associations engaged in the project will stay informed and become aware of the work implemented by the EGs, on a regular basis.  In particular, the Users associations selected by the IDIH Consortium will take part in 2 User Consultation Group (UCG) meetings - back-to-back with 1st (May 25th and 26th, 2020) and 3rd (March 2022) EGs meetings. In these occasions, Users Associations from the EU and the 5 Strategic Countries will meet with the Experts Groups working at the report Towards an international collaboration in digital health, for the definition of the Roadmap for future collaboration in priority areas.
Other articles that you may find in this section in the IDIH MAG Full Version:
 IDIH outcomes and news
  • IDIH outcomes can be further explored on the Project Website where direct and free access to Project Communications, Public Deliverables, Dissemination Material, and Publications is provided
 IDIH Helpdesk
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The Calls for research projects launched by the AAL programme provide a targeted funding mechanism for the development and integration of ICT-based solutions in the social context of a given region and/or healthcare environment. These calls not only respond to the challenges and opportunities of ageing, but also provide support to the health and care systems, in particular at local and regional level. Projects funded under the AAL program, which must be transnational, should meet the needs identified by end users and must provide public-private cooperation. Since 2008, the AAL program has funded over 240 projects in 12 calls, complementary to those of the European Commission's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme.
The Call 2020 Healthy Aging through Digital Solutions and Ecosystems has been launched in 2020. Due to the public health crisis caused by COVID 19, the AAL Programme has extended the application period until 24 August 2020 at 17:00 CET.
The 2020 call aims to support innovative, transnational and multidisciplinary, market-oriented collaborative projects for the creation of integrated ICT-based solutions in different sectors of the Programme. These include solutions for active life (work and training, vitality and ability, leisure and culture, information and communication) and for assisted life (health and care, building, mobility and safety).
A TLR (Technology Readiness Level) between 5 and 8 is required. There are two categories of projects:
  • Collaborative projects: lasting between 12 and 30 months, they must be proposed by consortia of at least three partners from three countries, of which at least one industrial partner and one end user. The maximum co-financing is €2.5 million.
  • Small collaborative projects: their main objective is the exploration of new ideas, concepts and approaches. They have a duration of between 6 and 9 months and a maximum co-financing of 300.000 euros. The eligibility criteria are the same as for collaborative projects, but the application and reporting procedures are simplified.
Collaborative project proposals must demonstrate a clear path toward market and added value for different types of end users. The proposed solutions will have to be directed towards one or both of the following market segments, namely:
  • "private consumer markets", aimed at aspects such as well-being, lifestyle, independence, work, fun and comfort.
  • "regulated markets", aimed at aspects such as healthcare and housing.
Further information on the AAL Call 2020 and the official list of funding agencies that will finance the winning projects are available on the AAL website.
This article on IDIH MAG full version adds details on
  • AAL Solutions Supporting Older Adults During COVID19 Outbreak
  • ALL Forum 2019 Executive Summary
Other articles that you may find in this section in the IDIH MAG Full Version:
 EIT Health: New funding programmes for the internationalisation  of start-up and scale up
 eCare Open Market consultation to be launched in May-June 2020
 JPI MYBL Joint Call 2020: Equality and Wellbeing across Generations The launch is postponed, a new launch date to be announced soon.
 EIP on AHA Twinnings 2020: facilitate the deployment of large-scale innovative digitally-enabled solutions for health and care (Deadline is closed: 4 May 2020)
 AgeingFit, the event dedicated to innovation in AHA
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IDIH Consortium partners at the Kick-off meeting in Helsinki, Finland (6-7 June 2019)
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