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A trust based culture is the backbone of the national Danish e-Health Portal sundhed.dk

By Morten Elbæk Petersen

Morten Elbæk Petersen - Direktør for Sundhed.dk uden skæg

A trust based culture is the backbone of the national Danish e-Health Portal sundhed.dk

Personal medicine overview, notes from Electronic Health Records from hospitals, lab responses, vaccination data and historical overview of treatments.

That’s just a small sample of the possibilities, you have as a citizen on the Danish public owned eHealth portal sundhed.dk. All Danes from 15 years and above can log on to “My Health” with a digital signature in combination with the social security number.

A trust based culture

The Danish culture is characterized as trust-based and citizens rely on the public authorities and their handling of personal clinical data.  Therefore, the Danish e-health Portal is seen as a Safe Harbour in a sometime chaotic e-health market.

This safe harbour brand is due to a high degree of confidence in the institutions and public sector in Denmark in general – and it confirms that the well established security system around sundhed is trusted. So it is a confidence in a healtcare sector governed by democratic elected politicans at national, regional and local levels.

That’s some of the reasons, why the number of unique visitors to sundhed.dk keep increasing and by 2018 sundhed.dk has 1,7 million unique visitors per month out of a population of 5.8 million inhabitants.

But we also know, that we have to work hard to maintain the culture of trust. Thats why data security has high priority in Denmark in general – but especially in eHealth.

Patient empowerment

The many opportunities and easy access to personal health data makes sundhed.dk the most innovative and significant digital solution in Denmark to support patient empowerment and hereby contributing to cost reducing work flows of health care professionals.

A brand new Danish e-health strategy from January 2018  highlight health data as essential for quality improvement and health research, both of which are significant drivers in the continued development of health care. Initiatives to support patient empowerment and cost reducing workflows grows, taking in consideration that the OECD estimates that public authorities, using data systematically to improve their workflows, reduce operating costs by 15-20 percent.

A great demand for learning

Over the last few years there has been a great demand for learning more about the sundhed.dk solution, and more than 35 countries from all over the world, EU, WHO and organizations with a focus on health IT want dialogue on the possibility of implementing similar models.

And Denmark is not hesitant to share the experiences. Late in 2017 a new spin out sundhed.dk International Foundation was created in public and private partnership with the purpose to assist other countries or health organisations make cheap and trustworthy e-health solutions. The successful implementation of sundhed.dk – which was launched in 2003 – rely on different key factors such as a common, ambitious national eHealth strategy and one coherent, public, funding based on an economic perspective to reduce costs. The trust-based culture, the expectations to openness and transparency, the high reliability in public authorities and their handling of personal clinical data – are all, important factors.

Since health data is automatically produced in the meeting between the citizens and the health care sector there is a common interest in optimize and mutual gain from theses outcomes: Citizens “give” data to the system – and patient empowerment through digitization providing insight and transparency is “giving back” data to the citizens”.

One access point

At the same time sundhed.dk technologically builds on the idea of “one access point”, re-using and showing information and data from local systems. Sundhed.dk is an integration point presenting an overview.

The economic perspective behind sundhed.dk has primarily been to support the general practitioners in their gate keeping function: To keep citizens out from the hospitals, focus on prevention and treatment at home. And at the same time provide a digital solution that provide citizens the possibility to actively use the resources they already have providing insight in own personal health data.

Sundhed.dk is an example of exploiting the opportunities in the spread of digital technology providing citizens transparency and openness about their own data and hereby drive changes and improvements in the health care sector.

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