Recent EMCDDA studies on the impact of COVID-19 containment measures on drug services in Europe highlighted the rapid and widespread adoption of telemedicine and online communication. In some countries, core drug treatment modalities moved online and virtual technologies were used to support more conventional treatment approaches. In line with these developments, the EMCDDA is hosting an expert meeting today dedicated to digital health innovation.

In order to monitor the rapid developments unfolding in this area, and to fully understand the potential and challenges of these approaches, there is a need to map, categorise and build a taxonomy of the types of digital interventions currently available. There is also a need to identify inclusion and exclusion criteria to select and, in time, evaluate case studies. The aim of today’s expert meeting is to reach consensus on the taxonomy, criteria and the case studies identified thus far.

The digital health taxonomy and examples of practice, are planned to be completed in 2022 and will be accessible through the EMCDDA’s Best Practice Portal. These practical tools aim to facilitate the monitoring of availability of digital health services for drug problems in the future. They will also increase understanding of how digital health innovation can support improvements in the treatment of addiction and in the delivery and organisation of addiction services, in keeping with the resources, infrastructure and legal framework of individual countries.