Health IT is not sufficiently funded and supported at most European healthcare provider organizations, according to a HIMSS Analytics survey of health IT professionals.
The HIMSS Analytics Annual European eHealth Survey garnered responses from 559 eHealth professionals from more than 15 European countries. Close to half of the respondents (42 percent) were from health facilities, 11 percent were from governmental health authorities, 18 percent were IT software vendors and 28 percent represented “other.”
Sixty-two percent of respondents said IT was underfunded at their organizations. Funding is seen as the biggest obstacle in Italy (87 percent of respondents from Italy said IT budgets were insufficient), as well as Ireland (86 percent) and the U.K. (80 percent). The survey also found that although the vast majority of healthcare facilities see IT as an enabler to improve patient safety and care, most respondents feel a lack of central direction and support in order to progress their eHealth agenda.
The survey results indicate that European health IT professionals are focused on the same big ticket technologies as their U.S. counterparts. Almost a third of respondents (29 percent) noted that the implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) is a key priority at the moment, as well as the enablement of health information exchange, both within the organization (7 percent) and with external partners (12 percent). Clinician access to information was cited as a top priority by 11 percent of respondents.
The respondents also indicated that Patient Health Records (owned and managed by citizens) as well as patient self-monitoring tools will receive much more attention and funding over the next two to three years. Even in countries that still struggle to enable clinical staff to work with electronic medical records, eHealth professionals realize that the tide is shifting more and more towards patient-centric solutions. However, EMRs and regional/national HIEs will be key building blocks.
Looking at electronic medical records, while in Ireland less than half of patient records are digitized, Austria and the Netherlands only have a relatively short way to go in order to completely eliminate paper-based medical records. Across all countries, about 75 percent of patient data are digitized in European health facilities.
When citing the major challenges that their organizations face, 14 percent of respondents said funding and 14 percent also cited struggles with EMR implementation. Other challenges respondents cited include finding and hiring sufficiently skilled employees, interoperability standards, patient empowerment and self-management, mobile health and big data analytics.