|UNICOM is about improved patient safety and better healthcare for all. This European Commission supported Innovation Action focuses on the implementation of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) suite of IDMP (IDentification of Medicinal Products) standards. Work will involve further development, testing, implementation and diffusion of these standards for
Most resource-rich countries maintain at least basic national (electronic) repositories and data bases of medicinal products which have gone through the stipulated regulatory national process to be marketed in that national healthcare system. Unfortunately, these uncoordinated national regulatory procedures have resulted in a host of unintended results and impacts endangering patient safety and hindering better healthcare service delivery, particularly in international contexts:
Similar challenges apply to the electronic recording of medicinal products in other healthcare contexts, e.g. in electronic patient summaries, health records, clinical decision and ordering systems, or ePrescribing software.
UNICOM is dedicated to
Patient safety issues, like medication errors, are due to numerous reasons, but many of them are related to a lack of readability of prescriptions, sometimes the partial absence of well detailed, structured and coded information on medicinal products – which also may somewhat differ depending on the national market, or missing information on other medicines taken by the patient.
The current digitalization of the healthcare sector may contribute substantially to reduce these threats, but without the adoption and concrete implementation of common conceptual and semantic standards to accurately identify and provide full, consistent and high quality data on all medicinal products available in the respective national or European market, the expected added value cannot be entirely delivered with data unable to travel between systems, regions, countries or use-cases.
All of this will be of great benefit to patients as well as healthcare professionals, and contribute to better healthcare for all across the Union.
UNICOM supports and enables the univocal identification of medicinal products by facilitating and accelerating the
across European health systems.
Core objectives focus on:
The univocal identification of medicinal products is a global challenge. By going it alone, countries hinder the free flow of detailed, interoperable medicine information in the European Union, across the Atlantic, and globally. The UNICOM project joins forces with other stakeholders in our health systems to spearhead solving this challenge. It will accelerate the further diffusion of ISO IDMP standards (Identification of Medicinal Products).
To achieve the objectives envisaged and reach the outcomes foreseen, UNICOM is organised along three closely interrelated vertical action lines:
These three action lines are supported by two horizontal activity clusters:
UNICOM will help to break down barriers hindering the free flow of detailed, semantically coded interoperable drug information across the globe, thereby
This will deliver individual, social, societal, and economic benefits to
Core IDMP data value chain actors are consortium partners (26 National Drug and eHealth Authorities, Standard Development Organisations (SDOs), providers of cross-border ePrescription services, clinicians, patients, and many others).
Further stakeholders are involved through their associations or as experts (via an Advisory Board, expert workshops, meetings & conferences etc.)
The impact and benefits for all stakeholders directly involved in the medicines data value chain, but also for health systems and societies will be multi-faceted and very substantial:
The project assembles consortium partners from
Through various consortium partners, UNICOM may also reach out to similar authorities and organisations on other continents once concrete results and lessons learned become available.
As part of its activities, UNICOM undertakes activities around IDMP to foster trans-Atlantic cooperation in the spirit of the “Memorandum of Understanding between The United States Department of Health and Human Services and the European Commission on Cooperation Surrounding Health Related Information and Communication Technologies”.
The eHealth, Well-Being and Ageing Unit (CNECT/H/03) of the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (CNECT) of the European Commission (EC) in Luxembourg is supervising the project.
During its lifecycle, the project’s performance and results are evaluated regularly by an external team of reviewers appointed by the European Commission. The reviewers produce a report which includes global and specific recommendations on the overall management of the project, the different tasks performed, the quality of the deliverables produced and, as the case may be, on modifications of the remaining work.
UNICOM key deliverables are reviewed by carefully selected external experts, before being submitted to the Commission and, once approved, published on this website. This process is not a compulsory procedure, but UNICOM believes that, given the strategic importance of the project, it would bring additional value.
The project has also constituted an ethical board composed of well-known European legal and ethics experts who are not directly part of the project and can thus provide the needed advise in total independence.
Finally, the project foresees to establish an advisory board whose role will be to provide guidance on a number of issues once first results will be available.
Unicom will run for four years. Official start of this innovation action was 1 December 2019. The project is expected to end on 30 November 2023.
The official budget amounts to around € 21 million. European Commission (EC) funding is € 19 m; it is provided in the context of the European Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 875299. This support is gratefully acknowledged by all participants and stakeholders involved in UNICOM.
To a lesser extent, the same holds for other beneficiaries of this grant. Furthermore, spill-overs to other European actors are expected. UNICOM is an excellent exemplar of European Union support initiating and fostering investments much larger than the initial funding.