Denmark ranks as number one in digital health readiness, according to OECD. Peter Munch Jensen, the Danish Health Data Authority, elaborates on the reasons behind these achievements and describes concrete solutions and initiatives.–Trevlig läsning!Som vanligt står skribenten själv för innehållet i inlägget. Kommentera gärna på vår hemsida eller i sociala medier.
Digital health in Denmark
Peter Munch Jensen, Head of Department, The Danish Health Data Authority (Sundhedsdatastyrelsen)
Recently, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released their latest Health at a Glance report including a special focus on digital health and its potential to transform health systems. In the report, Denmark ranks as number one in digital health readiness due to the country’s commitment to utilizing digital technology for the betterment of healthcare. The report highlights Denmark’s digital health infrastructure, which enables efficient information exchange and seamless integration of health records. Furthermore, the OECD report highlights that in an OECD country like Denmark, the digital readiness was vital when coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.
A number of solutions and initiatives across the Danish healthcare sector contribute to this result:
The widespread use of standardized digital messages means that all basic messages such as referrals, discharge letters, and laboratory test results have been fully digitalized. More than 10 million messages are being sent across the healthcare sector each month.
Citizen’s access to health data: With more than 3 million visitors each month, the national webportal sundhed.dk serves as a platform for accessing and managing personal health data. Sundhed.dk ensures secure access to medical records, test results, vaccination history, and prescription information. This helps individuals stay informed about their own health conditions, facilitates communication with healthcare providers, and enables better coordination of care across different healthcare settings.
Cross-sectorial sharing of health data in national databases: A prime example of this is the shared Medication Record, an electronic register that provides citizens and healthcare professionals access to a complete electronic record of each citizen’s current prescription medications. The system allows for real-time updates, communication and information sharing between hospitals, GPs, municipalities, and pharmacies. Citizens can also access their own medication data and request prescription renewals through a dedicated app. In a similar way, a national appointment overview is almost completed, giving health care professionals access to a complete overview of a patient’s appointments in the health care sector across hospitals, GPs and municipalities. Again, the patients can access their own data on sundhed.dk
All in all, these initiatives have resulted in a more efficient and coherent healthcare system and higher-quality treatment.
But what are the reasons behind these achievements? From my point of view, a number of factors can explain this progress:
- A yearlong tradition for national eHealth strategies, initiated by the national health authorities and setting a strategic framework for working with ehealth across national health authorities, the regions, the municipalities and other relevant parties. The current Danish strategy for digital health 2018-2024 is the fifth in line.
- A solid and consolidated IT infrastructure based on common IT architecture and common standards. Furthermore, The Danish Health Data Network offers secure data communications in the Danish healthcare sector (public and private sections) linking secure local networks together in a shared infrastructure.
- A highly developed governance structure for decision making between all actors, co-financing of shared solutions and IT-infrastructure components and a number of steering groups for development and running a large number of cross sectorial solutions.
- A number of strong prerequisites for working with digital solutions within the healthcare sector: An IT-ready population with a high degree of trust in the public sector, basic infrastructure in place such as unique national identification numbers and a widely used digital signature allowing I high-security identification when accessing health data.
But although this model of close collaboration and joint projects has brought us a long way, a number of challenges must be dealt with in the years to come.
Development and implementation of cross sectorial eHealth solutions require a high degree of coordination and shared decision making often leading to very long projects with a timespan of several years. if digital solutions are to be part of the answer to the healthcare system’s challenges in the future, we must develop new ways of developing cross sectorial ehealth solutions faster.
In addition, prioritization is crucial in the rapidly evolving world of digital health. Organizations has limited capacity for development and implementation. The wishes for new eHealth solutions are often many, and prioritization is necessary. Focusing on the few most important projects with the highest benefits is necessary if we are to ensure that ehealth continue to support a coherent and effective healthcare sector.