WHO presents the tangible progress of E-Health in Europe

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The World Health Organization (WHO) revealed current March a new study presenting progress on e-Health in the European Regions. The report, entitled “From innovation to implementation – e-Health in the WHO European Region”, emphasis about technology being used in order to deliver accurate health services.

What is e-Health?

E health logoE-Health is defined by any activity in which technology or any electronic means is used to deliver information, resources and services related to health. Today, we are speaking of telehealth, mobile health (m-Health), but also about the health-related use of e-Learning, social media, health analytics, connected devices or even “Big Data”.

Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, points out in her foreword: “The 21st century has swept in on a wave of technology, bringing with it a huge range of possibilities for innovation in health. In many countries, e-Health is revolutionizing health care delivery and the health information needed to support it. Patients are more and more empowered because they have access to information and advice. This is improving the quality of health care and also challenging the traditional roles of health care professionals.”

“E-Health saves lives and money; yet, despite many inspiring examples of progress, this report makes it clear that e-Health is not being adopted evenly across the Region. Stronger investment in e-Health is needed in order to achieve the Health 2020 policy objectives.” 

Towards a clearer legislation

The report also points out and draws attention on the fact that several countries lack on governance or legislation protecting the e-Health practice or data. This aspect may lead to improper commercial exploitation, while public health authorities miss out opportunities.

E-Health has an obvious potential when regarding the worldwide rapid ageing population. The report outstands the fact that any government should take action and implement accurate legislation, clinical registries and legal protection.

“I urge all Member States and relevant partners within the WHO European Region to recognize and act upon the key messages and recommendations presented in this report. We need to ensure the collective, intersectoral engagement of all stakeholders for the future of eHealth and to leverage the strengths of each in implementing the Health 2020 policy in Europe.”, said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.

Synergies between health analytics and Big Data are source of value, but today, few are the countries where policies are available to sustain progress in this area. Currently, only 6 of them have a national policy or strategy using Big Data in the Health sector.

Key facts and statistics e health raport

  • 70% (30 Member States) have a national eHealth policy or strategy, of which 90% (27 Member States) indicate that their policy or strategy refers explicitly to objectives or key elements of universal health coverage.
  • 59% of respondents (27 Member States) have a national electronic health record system; 69% of those (18 Member States) have legislation governing its use.
  • 27% of respondents (12 Member States) have a dedicated policy or strategy for telehealth; an additional 36% (16 Member States) refer to telehealth in their national eHealth policies or strategies.
  • 49% of respondents (22 Member States) have government-sponsored mHealth programmes.
  • The use of mHealth for access to patient records has increased by 25% since the 2009 survey.
  • The use mHealth for appointment reminders has risen by 21% since the 2009 survey.
  • 91% of respondents (40 Member States) report that individuals and communities use social media to learn about health issues.
  • 81% (35 Member States) report that health care organizations use social media to promote health messages as part of health promotion campaigns.
  • 13% of respondents (6 Member States) have a national policy or strategy regulating the use of big data in the health sector.
  • 9% (4 Member States) have a national policy or strategy regulating the use of big data by private companies.
  • 80% of respondents (36 Member States) have legislation to protect the privacy of an individual’s health-related data in electronic format in electronic health records. This has increased by nearly 30% since the 2009 survey.
  • 53% (24 Member States) do not have legislation that allows individuals electronic access to their own health data in their electronic health records.

Source: From innovation to implementation – eHealth in the WHO European Region (2016)

To download the complete report, you may follow this link.


This report describes the development of and emerging trends in electronic health (e-health) in the WHO European Region in 2016. Its content and key messages are based on data collected from the 2015 WHO Global eHealth Survey and the assistance of a number of key practitioners in the field.

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