24 Mar 2014

e-Health: slight increase of uptake across the EU but further efforts needed

e-health screen doctor
The JRC has been investigating the impact of ICT on the health sector for some years
© EU

e-Health deployment in European hospitals has increased slightly over the period 2010-2013. The gap between best performers (mostly Nordic countries) and less advanced countries (mostly Eastern European countries and Greece) in hospital e-health deployment has narrowed (from 42% in 2010 to 34% in 2013). Medical professionals actively use e-health functionalities once available.

e-Health is the term used for the range of tools based on ICT which assist and enhance the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of disease, and management of health and lifestyle. The JRC has been investigating the impact of ICT on the health sector for some years. In a recently concluded project, JRC scientists analysed e-health deployment, availability and use in European hospitals dealing with short-term medical and/or surgical treatment and care (acute hospitals). The "European Hospital Survey: Benchmarking Deployment of e-Health Services (2012–2013)" resulted in the publication of a series of reports presenting outcomes, key conclusions, detailed country reports, methodology used, and composite indicators developed for this project.

e-Health uptake in EU28 + Iceland and Norway

The gap between countries with acute hospitals that are more advanced with e-health development (mostly Nordic countries) and those with hospitals that are less advanced in this respect (mostly eastern European countries and Greece) has been reduced. Top performing countries for e-health deployment among hospitals are Denmark (66%), Estonia (63%), Sweden and Finland (both 62%). Full country profiles are available on IPTS website.

Electronic Health Records

Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems exist in 75% of hospitals surveyed. However there is a big variability between countries in the availability and usage of certain e-health functionalities. The two functionalities with the highest availability levels are those that allow viewing or inputting information about laboratory test results (64%) and about financial or billing processes (59%) on EHR. The two functionalities with the highest usage levels when they are available are those that allow viewing or inputting information about laboratory test results (96%) and about the reports of radiology test results (95%) on EHR.

Telehealth functionalities score the lowest both with regards to availability and usage levels. Remote monitoring of patients is available in only 9% of hospitals, and the functionality to allow health professionals the electronic exchange of medical patient data with any healthcare provider in another country is deployed in 7% of hospitals. Even when available, functionality allowing the interaction with patients by email about health-related issues is used by only 38% of hospitals.

Medical information electronic exchange

Thirty per cent of hospitals do not share any medical information with any external care provider. Interestingly, almost all the hospitals that do not share information electronically do have such information available. Countries where hospitals share information with external general practitioners and specialists are Estonia, Denmark, Belgium and Austria. On the other end of the spectrum are Romania, Lithuania and Greece. Authors point to the interoperability of the information systems as one of the probable underlying causes.

Keywords: ICT, health
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