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Europe is ready for free movement of Electronic Health Records, EU Report says

Matteo Natalucci Published 31 July 2017

Pan-European report details findings of attitudes to storing and sharing electronic health records across Europe

A recent study has highlighted the different challenges and opportunities EU countries face when implementing an eHealth system.

The study, "Mapping out the obstacles of free movement of electronic health records in the EU in the light of single digital market", commissioned by the Government Office of Estonia and conducted in cooperation with the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs, gives an overview of the development of e-health services and the legislation that supports the movement and the safe use of health data.

It maps the obstacles and benefits of movement of health data in Estonia, Finland, Germany, Poland, Sweden and the UK.

"The main barriers for free movement of health data are not information technology or legislation, but rather so-called soft aspects such as people's attitudes, awareness and cooperation", the study says.

The report presents findings from a pan-European survey, which captures the attitudes to storing and sharing electronic health records across Europe.

"Overall, the respondents agreed that storing electronic health data is beneficial for enhancing quality of the treatment, preventing health epidemics, and reducing delays, with 75.5%, 63.9%, and 58.9% respectively. However, there were still concerns over appropriate methods taken into place to protect the data, with only 38.4% of respondents thinking that healthcare providers provide effective data security successfully." the study says.

"Additionally, there was a higher preference of storing the data, specifically with granting access to all health professionals. This suggests that respondents recognise the individual level benefits that can be achieved from using electronic health records. Nevertheless, there is less preference to share the health data with wider audience such as fire personnel and academic researchers even if the data is anonymised." the survey continues.

EU report -  High privacy concern

The study also measures the levels of privacy concerns in the member states, highlighting how peoples’ attitudes towards data protection and privacy significantly differ across Europe. (insert image). Interestingly, the UK shows the highest level of concern responses within the chosen member state, falling in the range of 40% – 60%.

Finally, the study provides recommendations to facilitate the movement of electronic health records in the Europe to be implemented both at a national and EU level.

"Technology is a tool to create a successful eHealth system that solves the issues of today’s and future’s society. Integrating information technology into healthcare can be seen as an essential element to ensure sustainable healthcare. With a goal to offer high quality healthcare to all EU citizens whilst optimising the cost. 39 Nevertheless, it is not enough to solely implement an eHealth system. Simply storing electronic health records does not guarantee success. In order to increase the rate of success, eHealth systems should serve a specific purpose or solve a particular issue. Limiting the system with one or few purposes means that the design of the system is more focused. This could be the key to solving the issues today’s society is facing" the report concludes.

   








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