Digital Health

HIMSS European Digital Health Survey 2021: Nordic Countries Lead the Way in Digital Health Under COVID-19

Doctor works on laptop

Nordic countries continue to hold the status of digital health champions of Europe under the pandemic, according to the latest HIMSS Annual European Digital Health Survey.

The study, which is part of the HIMSS e-Health Trendbarometer series, surveyed more than 400 professionals in the field of digital health between September and November 2020. It also includes in-depths insights from five digital health experts on the priorities and challenges of the year ahead and beyond.

The survey found Nordic countries and the Netherlands are perceived as leading the charge in terms of legal frameworks and a drive toward standardisation. Estonia also commanded attention for the maturity and penetration of its digital infrastructure, and its innovative use of technologies such as blockchain.

Foundations for digital health provided a strong basis for the industry’s rapid response when the pandemic arrived, the survey found. However, the crisis exposed significant connectivity and integration gaps in many European countries. Steps have been taken to improve shortcomings, particularly with Health Information Exchange (HIE), as authorities urgently needed frontline information to inform their COVID-19 responses.

IT security and data privacy were rated the top priorities for organisations surveyed, followed by remote working for staff members. Interoperability and agreement on standards continue to be a priority in 2021 and a growing demand for tools that enable remote working is predicted.

Funding and costs were rated as the top digital health challenge faced by 42 percent of organisations surveyed, followed by IT security and data privacy. These will continue to be significant challenges in 2021.

The second half of 2021 is predicted to see a shift, as vaccines and improved therapies lift the pressure caused by the pandemic. In the following two years, experts say we are likely to see a more secure, better-connected, data-driven and collaborative health system emerging. Care provision will be increasingly proactive, with a focus on keeping patients – particularly those with chronic diseases – away from healthcare facilities.

Read more about the HIMSS Annual European Digital Health Survey.

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