The 2019 Annual European eHealth Survey, conducted in collaboration between HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) and McKinsey, has revealed that Estonia is regarded as the leading country for e-health innovation in Europe. Denmark, which was the previous year’s number one, is now ranked in second place. The study surveyed professionals in the field of healthcare that hold different positions from IT staff to software consultancies to, of course, doctors and nurses.
Data & interoperability
The study outlined cybersecurity and interoperability as some of the major concerns of healthcare professionals. This also ties with patient empowerment when it comes to data – access to medical health records and, in the future, contributing to them with self-generated in data. In Estonia, health records are kept digitally in the patient portal, where citizens can view the information entered by their doctors. However, transparency of the system is also crucial – citizens can view in the logbook, who has been looking at their medical data. The survey also notes a rise in trends related to telemedicine, which again proves the need for data integrity and accountability, as well as ensuring patient privacy.
People are more mobile than ever nowadays and with that also comes the need for transferring and exchanging data cross-borders, which, of course, should be as convenient for the person as possible. With this comes the need for interoperability, which is outlined in the report as one of the standout future challenges to become even more prominent. It’s both a question of internal interoperability within a country’s information systems as well as external cross-border exchange. One of the working examples of exchange between countries is that EU citizens can retrieve medication in Estonia that has been prescribed electronically by doctors in Finland.
e-Health in Estonia
The HIMSS report states that successful patient empowerment requires an advanced e-health infrastructure. In Estonia healthcare related e-services are some of the most used digital services. For example, 99% prescriptions issued in Estonia are digital and for a repeat prescription there is no need to show up at the doctor’s office. Every person in Estonia that has visited a doctor, has an online e-health record and doctors submit around 2,3M queries every month about patient data. Additionally, the X-road allows secure data exchange between databases in Estonia.
To further prioritise discussion on digital healthcare solutions, the topic for the annual Tallinn Digital Summit 2020 has been announced as digital health.