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eHealth not up to speed in Europe

Less than one in three doctors email their patients and just 10 per cent hold online consultations

eHealth digital pharmaThe proportion of GPs across Europe who use eHealth tools like electronic health records or telehealth reached 60 per cent last year, but more needs to be done and the pharma industry has a role to play.

That was the message recently from the European Commission (EC), which says eHealth use across the region is starting to take off but greater progress is needed.

An EC survey found only 35 per cent of doctors email their patients, 10 per cent of GPs hold online consultations and uptake of ePrescriptions was limited to 32 per cent.

Commission vice president Neelie Kroes said the “mentality in the healthcare sector” needs to rapidly change.

“I want governments, high tech innovators, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals and hospitals to join forces and create an innovative and cost-efficient healthcare system - with more control and transparency for the patient."

Her comments follow the publication of an EC survey of more than 9,000 GPs across 31 European countries showing the number of GPs using eHealth rose 50 per cent between 2007 and 2013.

It also found GP access to basic computer needs was almost universal, with 97 per cent of respondents saying they had an internet-connected computer in the consultation room.

But progress in more advanced areas, such as electronic health records (EHR) and telehealth, was patchy; while some 93 per cent of GPs have access to some basic forms of EHR, adoption of telehealth and personal health records is still limited.

The study concluded: “The levels of adoption registered suggest that we are still very far from reaching the target and objectives defined for eHealth both in the Digital Agenda for Europe and in the 2012 eHealth Action Plan.”

GPs said the things that held them back from making greater use of eHealth services were a lack of remuneration (79 per cent); insufficient IT knowledge (72 per cent); the lack of interoperability of systems (73 per cent); and a lack of a regulatory framework on confidentiality and privacy for email doctor-patient communication (71 per cent).

Overall GPs make only limited use of ePrescription and doctor-patient email interaction. The top performers for ePrescription are Estonia (100 per cent), Croatia (99 per cent) and Sweden (97 per cent), while the use of email is led by Denmark (100 per cent), Estonia (70 per cent) and Italy (62 per cent).

eHealth services are still mostly used for traditional recording and reporting rather than for clinical purposes, the EC notes, pointing out that only 10 per cent of GPs hold online consultations.

7th April 2014

From: Healthcare

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