Sundhed.dk, the official portal for the public Danish healthcare, enables patients and healthcare professionals to access to personal health data anytime anywhere. The portal has 1,4 million unique visitors per month out of a population of about 5,6 million and is a powerful back-end integration platform including data from 120 existing sources.
In Denmark we have a national eHealth portal called sundhed.dk (meaning health) that we believe not only makes it easier and safer to be a patient but actually leads to healthier citizens. It is the official portal for the public Danish healthcare services and enables patients and healthcare professionals to find information, communicate and more importantly it gives anytime anywhere access to personal health data, e.g. online Electronic Health Record from hospitals, cross-sectorial personal electronic medicine profile, overview of personal medical history since 1977 (hospitals), overview of contact with primary sector clinics since 2003, online organ donor registration, online living will and a service called ’My log’ (letting the patient see which health professionals have accessed their personal data).
The portal has 1,4 million unique visitors per month which is quite a lot out of a population of about 5, 6 million. It is also popular amongst health care professionals as it is the application health care professionals use the most. That is essential for our success.
Our goal is to carry out our partners' digitalization strategies and make them into concrete solutions for citizens and health care professionals. Sundhed.dk is a powerful back-end integration platform including data from 120 existing sources, and is essentially the ‘backbone’ of the Danish national ehealth infrastructure providing an almost 100 procent coverage of EHRs at hospitals and in primary health care.
A key to our success is shared values and visions across sectors, across political standpoints and across individual professionals’ agendas. In Denmark, we have experienced that it’s essential that a group of innovative decision makers lead the way; people that have the will and the courage to take the public healthcare system to the next level, by taking new paths and change the traditional patient-system-relationship.
eHealth is all about patient empowerment! But what does that actually mean? It means a whole process of involving and engaging the patient by not only giving access to relevant information but also giving the patient an active role as a co-player in the care and treatment process. It’s not only about accessing data but the whole change of role this access puts the patient in.
Knowledge and information lead to a better understanding and more equal dialog with health professionals. This creates space for observing, analysing and sharing the patient’s health and symptoms – going from a one way street to a much more dialog based path.
We have noticed that open access to medical records is also essential for less resourceful citizens. E-data allows the health professionals to reach out to patients that are not pro-active themselves. Also relatives carry a huge potential for supporting the patient. Through open access to medical records, a family member or friend can actively support the patient in for example communication, prevention, medication and registration of data.
We see that the groups – that we in the early stage called - ‘the marginalised groups’ - e.g. the elderly, chronic ill etc. actually do use the portal. They just need assistance – either by relatives/friends or healthcare professionals – to get started.
Patient empowerment means a whole process of involving the patient. Not only giving access to relevant information but also giving the patient an active role as a co-player in the treatment process. In the end it means better treatment, better cures and faster, more effective recovery. In short, ehealth facilitates real health. It helps people be healthy!
An important milestone is the ability to easily access this data not only from a desktop or laptop computer, but from a tablet or smart phone, giving both patients and health professionals the freedom and flexibility of mobile access. Today, you certainly can access our portal from a mobile or tablet, but we want it to be a better, more user-friendly experience. However, already 40 percent of our users access the portal from mobile devices.
It is not only about HOW the data is accessed but even more about WHO and WHEN. Through mobile access the patient can contribute with much more data on-the-go, providing a much more coherent, yet complex and dynamic picture of the patient’s health situation.
There is no doubt that the future will reveal many interesting and even explosive developments that we at sundhed.dk will follow and take active part in. We are driven by a desire to modernise and improve the healthcare system by healthcare IT, sharing of quality data and joint infrastructure. One joint health care system with the patient in focus!
By Morten Elbæk Petersen, CEO of the Danish eHealth portal, sundhed.dk, since it was founded in 2003