In October, Estonia and Finland announced that they will be the first to exchange healthcare data by the end of 2018.
Following the EU project e-Health Digital Service Infrastructure (eHDSI), Estonia and Finland took the necessary implementing steps to start exchanging digital prescriptions by the end of this year. This should improve patients’ lives; when citizens move to another EU Member State, their healthcare data is lost. With the sharing of medical records healthcare services can be continued in a Member State other than the Member State of affiliation.
Estonian Minister of Health Riina Sikkut stated that the legal framework and interoperability are the two main challenges to enable cross-border exchange of health data. Minister Sikkut considers the former challenge can be tackled more easily since there is a clear willingness among EU Member States to develop a digital single market in health.
The President of the European Health Forum Gastein, Martin Auer, stressed that the cooperation between Estonia and Finland is an example of good practice, but that the cooperation already goes beyond the two mentioned countries. He expresses the hope that approximately 18 countries will be capable of starting the exchange of health data in 2019.
Sweden, Greece and Cyprus should follow with the implementation of cross-border exchange of health data in 2019. Currently, other countries are already planning to start exchanging patients’ summaries in 2018 and 2019, including Malta, the Czech Republic and Luxembourg. Estonia plans to join this initiative in 2020, according to Minister Sikkut.
eHDSI is an EU project under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) setting up and starting the deploy of the services to implement data exchange at country level for Patient Summary and ePrescription. Together they enable the provision of the Cross Border eHealth Information Services (CBeHIS).