The European digital well being revolution within the wake of COVID-19

Though European well being methods have confronted probably the most difficult public well being menace they’ve ever skilled, the promising unwanted effects have undoubtedly been the disruptions catalysed by digital well being. Throughout this time of disaster, digital well being has stepped in to supply expedient well being care providers that supply effectiveness, security and even humanity for sufferers affected by power circumstances or who want speedy well being care. In recognition of this, the European Fee just lately proposed the EU4Health programme as a part of a COVID-19 restoration response programme. The initiative goals to lift €5.1 billion for the digital transformation of the EU well being sector and guarantee preparedness for future cross border well being threats.


Germany has steadfastly remained on the forefront of the digital well being transformation throughout the pandemic by frequently innovating and adapting laws accordingly. In 2019, DiGA Quick-Monitor was created by the Digital Healthcare Act (DVG) and varied legislative modifications, which meant that apps could possibly be prescribed by medical doctors and prices are reimbursed by German medical health insurance. On 5 October, eleven months after the Germany federal authorities handed the DVG, two well being apps formally turned accessible for prescription.

Nonetheless, the acceptance of digital well being has not at all times been so broadly current in Germany. Dr Susanne Ozegowski, head of company growth and digitisation at Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) and HIMSS EMEA advisory board member, instructed Healthcare IT Information: “In Germany, till three years in the past, digital well being did not play a giant position. There have been a couple of health and wellness apps however hardly any digital well being purposes which had a related impression when it got here to the analysis and remedy of ailments.

“That modified when the minister of well being, Jens Spahn, got here into workplace three and a half years in the past who actually pushed the difficulty of digital well being general.”

Since January 2021, all statutorily insured 72 million German residents have been legally entitled to a nationwide digital affected person file (ePA). Discussing this latest initiative, Dr Ozegowski added: “The technical infrastructure is in place,  it’s clear now what the parameters are. Sufferers already even have entry, as a result of as of January 1 of this 12 months, they’ve the chance to make use of an digital well being file, which is a part of that telematics infrastructure. The decisive subsequent step will likely be that suppliers get entry and that the ePA actually turns into a related half in the usual procedures of care.

“I feel the digital affected person file is likely one of the main issues that we want in Germany. In any other case, you are going to have all this fragmented well being information right here and there, however you want a standard digital infrastructure with the intention to have actual change of knowledge, and the chance for higher care choices primarily based on every particular person’s well being information.”

Reflecting on the region-wide advantages to return from the pandemic, Dr Ozegowski defined: “COVID has additionally helped within the acceptance that we have to do extra in healthcare on a European degree. Right here two issues got here collectively: COVID, after all, however then additionally the truth that Germany had the EU presidency within the second half of 2020.”

“That has led to Germany pushing for a European well being information house – which requires interoperability on a European degree – but in addition the implementation of the EU affected person abstract in Germany, which is in essence a shortened model of the digital well being file that will likely be interoperable with the EU customary.”

Telemedicine platforms are additionally a big part of Germany’s plans to quickly roll-out digital well being providers. Earlier this month, operators of telemedicine platforms reported a progress price of over 1,000%, with greater than 20,000 medical medical doctors and psychotherapists providing appointments by video-consultations. On-line appointments are reimbursed, supplied that one of many 20 platforms licensed by the Federal Affiliation of Statutory Well being Insurance coverage Physicians (KBV) is used.

Discussing the rise in teleconsultations, in a Q&A for the Deutsches Ärzteblatt, Professor Jürgen Debatin, head of the Well being Innovation Hub of the German Federal Ministry of Well being, stated: “[…] it’s above all digital applied sciences that preserve us collectively as a society on this state of affairs. This additionally applies to drugs.” 

As a consequence, producers of apply software program are bolstering investments in built-in options for on-line well being consultations. Throughout the pandemic, German CompuGroup Medical (CGM) determined to create its personal video-consultation resolution referred to as “Clickdoc” accessible to all medical doctors freed from cost till additional discover. In line with CGM, since its launch, round 5,000 medical doctors have registered for this KBV-certified video-consultation.

German video-consultation platform, Physician can also be one of many suppliers who’ve skilled sturdy progress in demand within the wake of the pandemic. “We’re presently experiencing an openness to the video-consultation that’s new to this extent,” stated an organization spokesperson. 


France adopted a brand new healthcare act in 2019, primarily based on the federal government’s ‘My Well being 2022’ plan which seeks to increase the nation’s eHealth focus. Amongst its plans, France desires to enhance interoperability; roll-out nationwide digital well being information (EHR) to turn into the cornerstone of eHealth platforms; leverage using AI in well being; set up a knowledge hub for healthcare information units; and make investments additional within the latest introduction of telemedicine by the general public well being system.

Telemedicine utilization has been breaking information within the nation, prompting well being minister, Olivier Véran to announce a decree to ease the circumstances for the apply of telemedicine. Moreover, the nation has just lately kick-started trials for a digital vaccine passport and is exhibiting promising progress in utilising well being tech to get the nation again to normality. Ranging from this month, the Worldwide Chamber of Commerce (ICC) AOKpass app will likely be trialled for passengers travelling to the French Caribbean territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe.  


In Norway, the Directorate for eHealth has inspired healthcare professionals to leverage video-consultations and has set up an outline of options already in use within the sector – both as a standalone video platform or from the EHR system. The primary EPR options with video for medical doctors in Norway are The PatientSky, which works straight within the browser, and Pridok, a cloud-based system with integration of standalone video options, Confrere, Helseboka and Helsenorge.

For psychologists and psychiatrists, the directorate has prompt quite a lot of standalone video options and EHR options with built-in video resembling Aspit Psykbase which integrates with Aspit Meet or Confrere (on request).

The Norwegian Well being Community (NHN) / Helsenorge is actively encouraging extra suppliers to supply video-consultations in collaboration with, enabling extra widespread entry to video options for residents.

The Norwegian Directorate of Well being and the Norwegian Directorate for eHealth have just lately put collectively a ‘corona portfolio’ to collate enter from small and enormous actors on digital options that may assist clear up the disaster. The enter is categorised and disseminated for additional evaluation from varied working teams with representatives from NIPH, the Norwegian Directorate of Well being, the Norwegian Well being Community or others if related. 

Rune Pedersen, director of Affected person Pathways, on the Norwegian Centre for eHealth Analysis instructed Healthcare IT Information: “A big nationwide digital platform is presently deliberate and partly operative. This platform will sooner or later comprise interoperability and semantic options. FHIR is a nationwide interoperability customary, and SNOMED-CT has been chosen as frequent terminology.

“Nationwide providers for sufferers and professionals are included. These are a number of and in progress. The work is hosted on the Directorate of eHealth, and led by the federal government. Considered one of for areas has purchased and can implement EPIC in each the first and specialist healthcare. The implementation is deliberate began in 2022. The municipalities are planning a nationwide procurement of frequent HER methods by KS, a municipal frequent organisation.”

Though this procurement is at an early stage, three of 4 areas have adopted an open EHR pushed system for specialist healthcare, which is being carried out from 2021. Pedersen added that this method goals for effectivity and security, with a big give attention to interoperability between providers.

Digital well being applied sciences right here to remain 

On account of the pandemic, using digital care and telemedicine has been established as a significant part of delivering care. Europe’s well being system governance will proceed to speculate and reimagine well being methods to make sure that telemedicine and different digital well being applied sciences are improved and tailored to rising rules and ever-changing affected person demand.

These digital well being fashions cut back the chance of an infection for the affected person and for hospital employees and in addition unencumber hospital assets for prioritised areas. Most significantly, and paradoxically, digital well being fashions that have been as soon as critised for dehumanising care have performed a useful position in connecting clinicians and sufferers throughout Europe. As this space evolves, the European Fee’s Communication on Digital Transformation of Well being and Care goals to proceed gaining assist and momentum in empowering residents and constructing a more healthy society by the higher use of digital merchandise within the sector. 

Discover out extra in regards to the European digital well being technique on the ‘A New Agenda for Europe: Leveraging the European Well being Information House’ session on the HIMSS21 & Well being 2.0 European Well being Convention on 7 June, 2021. 

Healthcare IT Information is a HIMSS Media publication.


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