The use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the field of health care could prevent 100,000 deaths each year in Europe, while the implementation of the electronic prescription could prevent five million errors in prescription each year, according to warns Sweden's Secretary of State Karin Johansson, as part of the e-Health conference held in Barcelona.
Hungary's health minister stresses that among the advantages of e-health is helping to mitigate the effects of the "chronic lack of professionals" that most healthcare systems suffer from.
"E-Health, or digital health, can mitigate the effects of the shortage of professionals that most healthcare systems suffer from."
For its part, the Commissioner of Health and Consumer Affairs of the European Commission, John Dalli, emphasizes that "medical science evolves constantly and new diagnoses and procedures appear, so more coordination is required" and telemedicine is a great advantage in the transmission of health information. In this regard, Dalli stresses that just as Europeans have the right to "move freely", it is essential that "health information can also be freely displaced" to facilitate and improve care in emergency situations.
The e-Health in Spain
Spain is one of the European countries that has advanced the most in the application of information and communication technologies (ICT) to the health sector. In three autonomous communities -Andalusia, Balearic Islands and Extremadura- the electronic prescription is already implemented, and in five others -Canarias, Cataluña, Comunidad Valenciana, Galicia and País Vasco- this service is in process. Last year, in particular, 139 million electronic prescriptions were issued.
Ten communities also have access to the Electronic Health Record (EHR) in primary care, and in eleven communities patients can already request a medical appointment through the Internet. Ninety-seven percent of primary care physicians have digital tools that allow them to consult the medical history, record the result of the consultation and prescribe medications, which has increased the time available to care for their patients by 22 percent.
At the end of 2010, in addition, it is expected that all health cards will be synchronized in Spain, that is, any person can be treated in any hospital in the country, regardless of their place of residence. The cards will include information on the clinical history of each patient, which can be consulted in all Spanish health centers.