According to the authors of the study, “eHealth has quickly become a symbol of the democratisation of healthcare, as well as an opportunity to meet the challenges caused by an ageing society, the epidemic of non-communicable and chronic diseases and the dramatically rising costs of healthcare.”
In practice, the study notes a lack of harmonisation of eHealth implementation within the EU and unsatisfactory access to cross-border healthcare. According to the authors, the implementation of electronic health records, ePrescriptions and national eHealth programmes varies significantly across Member States. “Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Spain and Sweden have the most developed eHealth solutions. Countries with poor results are Belgium, Germany, France and Italy. eHealth is the least developed in Albania, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Poland and Cyprus. Austria, Ireland and Hungary also have a relatively low score.”
Return on investment
The study estimates “there is a 2:1 return on eHealth investment. When benefits were given a euro value, the average breakeven point for the ten eHealth initiatives studied was five years.”
The authors project that “on average these solutions could reduce the health expenditures of most European countries by 0.31% GDP or 5% less spent on health by the taxpayer. A more conservative assumption connected only with eHealth usage as ePrescriptions, ICT systems and fraud control could lower the expenditures of about 0.13% GDP, which saves about 2% on the health budget (or makes these funds available for other treatments).”
The study makes several recommendations, such as ensuring the universal deployment of standardised electronic health records, the creation of European registers of chronic diseases and the improvement of research data exchange between EU Member States.
- Transforming eHealth into a political and economic advantage’ by Piotr Arak and Anna Wójcik (Polityka Insight), 2017