Bjørn Astad, Head of Division in the Norwegian Health Department presented the Norwegian eHealth strategy this morning in a session aimed at Sharing Knowledge and practice on interesting eHealth projects in Europe.
Astad said that the country´s healthcare reform was in fact a “coordination reform” with clearly defined goals: first, to coordinate activities and information sharing among healthcare providers; second to enable primary care to provide more services; and third, to reduce the need for expensive specialized care.
ICT critical for healthcare reform
Astad underlined, that the Norwegian government has positioned ICT to be “one of the most important tools to improve healthcare and reach the goals of the reform.” And the country has come a long way in implementing the reform.
Today, the “eHealth highway” is the Norwegian health net: a secure national data network connects 3,100 healthcare providers including all hospitals, all GPs, and 80% of the municipalities. Participation in the network is mandatory to be able to send electronic messages to other healthcare providers.
A year ago the country launched Helsenorge.no. In its first stage, it is purely a citizens´information portal. In future, it will provide services to patients and give access to health data.
Electronic prescriptions are well advanced. Norway started the rollout in 2009, and by end of 2013, all of Norway will be on electronic prescriptions. “This is a way to raise patient safety and reduce the number of medication errors”, Astad said.
The Electronic Patient Summary will start piloting in 2013, with the rollout scheduled for 2014. Norway has changed legislation to support a central archive with patient data that can be accessed by health personnel with the consent of the patient. Citizens may opt out of the archive.
Electronic messages provide a standard information exchange of referrals, prescriptions, test orders and result.
Astad observed that top-level political support is key to implementing a national strategy, in order to give the project legitimacy, but also to create an adequate legal frame-work to support the eHealth rollout. He also emphasized that the action plan must meet concrete needs and support their realization, and he recommends the engagement and integration of all stakeholders in the plan. Last, but not least, data protection and security must meet high standards in order to get buy-in from public and healthcare providers
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