Benefits for hospitals and for society as a whole

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - (HealthTech Wire / Premium Pro) - Investments in eHealth benefit both hospitals and society. Countries are already close to achieving fully digital healthcare systems. And hospitals can use eHealth to cut costs and free up financial resources for other purposes.

At the World of Health IT conference, Madis Tiik, CEO of the Estonian eHealth Foundation, gave an update on recent progress made in the Estonian eHealth project. Estonia has been an early adopter in terms of offering its citizens digital services of all kinds. The country has established an ID card-based infrastructure that allows secure access and digital signatures for all citizens. “Today there are around 3,000 services available through this platform,” Tiik said.

Healthcare was added in 2009 with the establishment of a national electronic health record (EHR) that can be accessed both by medical professionals and patients. Today, the Estonian EHR offers a wide range of eHealth services. And it is gaining in popularity. “90% of all hospital discharge letters and 15% of outpatient consultation notes are being made available in the EHR system today. 80% of all prescriptions in 2010 were electronic prescriptions.”

Increasing digitization, Tiik argued, will translate into huge efficiency gains for the Estonian healthcare system and thus save money for society. To begin with doctors were skeptical, but this is changing: “More than 95% of Estonian doctors have used the EHR already. There was a steep increase towards the end of 2010.” Many citizens, too, are interested in accessing their EHR data. More than 30,000 Estonians have done so already.

Uwe Poettgen, CIO of Asklepios, explained why eHealth investments were crucial for hospitals. Asklepios is a hospital chain that operates more than 100 institutions in several countries. It initiated an innovation program on healthcare IT as early as 2005 and is now reaping the benefits. Among the services on offer is an electronic case record for digital communication between institutions and with doctors in private practices. “We have also established a personal health record based on HealthVault, a mobile app for our patients and a Virtual Medical Center that allows patients to communicate in a group or with a specialist.”

Investing in eHealth, Poettgen said, has already paid off for Asklepios: “We have developed a standardized IT platform for many of our institutions as a first step. This has led to considerable savings. We can now use this money for other purposes.”

Source: HealthTech Wire