eHealth Services Empowering Startups #HealthTechCharter
The Third Best Practice of the HealthTechCharter refers to Estonia’s fully interoperable Electronic Health Records and e-Prescriptions integrated into its national health system. These eHealth services have empowered actors along the health continuum – and supported startups in digital health to succeed. Adopting similar practices across European borders would be a big step towards building a fully interoperable healthcare ecosystem that could help European nations respond to the many urgent challenges facing its society and economy today.
Interoperability in healthcare refers to timely and secure access, integration and use of electronic health data to optimize health outcomes and drive informed health research and innovation. Interoperable solutions ensure that different eHealth systems can exchange information seamlessly within and between countries – a prerequisite in building a stronger European Health Union.
Estonia’s healthcare system is home to some of Europe’s most innovative eHealth solutions. Its fully interoperable, centrally-stored Electronic Health Record (EHR) system grants patients and doctors electronic access to medical records, referrals, and certificates. These can easily and securely be shared with any healthcare worker or institution. The adoption of EHR is key to the digitisation of healthcare services. Secure data sharing for patients and health care providers contributes to more effective and timely diagnosis, reliable prescribing and improved productivity.
Estonia also integrates an e-Prescription infrastructure into their e-Health system. This ensures the retrieval of electronic prescriptions in all pharmacies, and any medical subsidy is accounted for automatically. Electronic prescribing increases the safety, efficiency and transparency of prescribing practices. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of e-Prescription systems has become evident as it enables doctors to easily prescribe the necessary medication to their patients during online consultations. While many EU countries are transitioning to e-Prescribing, some lack nationwide interoperability between prescribers and pharmacies.
Innovation starts with having access to the right data from across the integrated spectrum — data that is interoperable, accurate, timely and secure. To succeed, startups must consider how their solutions and applications can fit within healthcare institutions’ existing infrastructure and how to build compliance into their solutions. A fully interoperable national system empowers startups to do just that. Estonian-based healthcare startups, such as Viveo Health and Apotheka, continue to scale their solutions, supported by a fully interoperable EHR and e-Prescription infrastructure. Estonia’s eHealth solutions serve as an example of what works – a blueprint for European health systems that lack interoperability standards. Let’s push the conversation forward as we continue building Europe into a leading hub for digital health innovation.
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