Virtually every primary care doctor in Denmark uses an electronic medical record. Danish health citizens can access their laboratory results, medication profiles, waiting list information, and other information through a digital signature: over 1 million of 5.5 million Danes have done so.  

This week, I had the honor of kicking off the online health track at the J. Boye 2010 conference in Aarhus, Denmark. I spent time with an HIT guru from a major Scandinavian university hospital; a member of the Danish public sector HIT organization; marketers from the pharmaceutical industry; an entrepreneur building a portal for the growing private health sector to bring transparency of quality, price and services to a new generation of European health consumers; and a host of European citizens who are finding their way toward health engagement. 

As we shared case studies from our countries and health industry segments, two major themes crossed our cultural chasms:

1. Two groups in all of our nations succumb to peer pressure: kids and physicians. While physicians are slow to change, when their peers begin to adopt new technologies that demonstrate value, they come along. Exhibit A for our roundtable was Dr. Geir Tjonnfjord of the Oslo University Hospital who runs a blood clinic and identified an opportunity to better serve his patients with an online information tool. Once he began using the tool, he gathered evidence to show its usefulness and over time, his physician-peers are utilizing health IT in their research and practices. Other stories shared around the table demonstrated this phenomenon: that early adopting physicians of HIT are the Pied Pipers for their peers — once an evidence-base shows ROI and benefits.

2. Patients are central to health care, and to health engagement. Even in health systems that Americans might consider “socialist” or public sector-driven, health managers see the importance of patient engagement to better manage chronic conditions and fend off disease in the first place through wellness and prevention. The Danish system, in fact, offers specific disease management programs which 25% of GPs participate in with inter-disciplinary teams of nurses and remote health monitoring. U.S. physicians will also be interested to learn that the Danish health system pays double the rate of reimbursement for physicians to respond to (secure) e-mailed queries from patients than via telephone.

Learn more about Denmark’s health IT strategy in an issue paper published by The Commonwealth Fund in March 2010, Widespread Adoption of Information Technology in Primary Care Physician Offices in Denmark: A Case Study.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Developed nations continue to wrestle with aging populations, rising health costs and the desire to adopt technological innovations in health care. There are best practices to learn about in Denmark, in Norway, in Switzerland, in Germany, in the UK, in the U.S., and beyond. The more we share our stories about what works, the more we can learn and adopt these for use in our systems in ways that suit our local cultures.

I tweeted on Monday 1st November: “In London UK health care meetings all day: British & American colleagues arguing whose health system is worse – depends on what we measure!” Dr. Paul Levy picked up my tweet in my Facebook page; he responded on his brilliant blog, Running a Hospital, this week, in a post titled, Convergence “I predict… the systems will start to look more and more alike over time. Pressure in the US for a more nationally-determined approach. Pressure in Europe for more of a private market approach. It shouldn’t surprise us to see this convergence. After all, the countries are dealing with the same organisms, both biologically and politically.”

The more time I spend working with people in health systems outside of the U.S., I agree more and more with Paul.

7 Comments on There is nothing like a Dane – when it comes to health and IT

Nikko said : Guest Report 10 years ago

I have seen both private and public hospitals and is amazed both doing well when it comes to patient care and training future doctors and nurses although some of them are only volunteers solely for the purpose of being trained and not just doing business.

Jo said : Guest Report 10 years ago

I work within the health service and have to say that the service they give is second to none. Both from an administrative point of view and the medical practitioners involved.

Oliver said : Guest Report 10 years ago

We are having a problem with the main health service at the moment in England, although the government say that are not cutting back, there has been a stop on most peoples pay as well as the fact that they are not taking on any more staff, meaning that the existing staff are doing twice as much work. Although the standard of health care has not gone down, there is far more pressure on the doctors, nurses and supporting staff within the health service to meet targets, which are often unobtainable.

Berlin Medical Care said : Guest Report 10 years ago

I have to agree with the comment made above, that although hospitals are run as businesses the patient care is always the main focus. I love working in the medical profession, not only do you build up a fantastic rapport with the patients, but the job itself is so interesting.

Denmark Hospitals said : Guest Report 10 years ago

I live in Britain and have worked both in the private sector, and it has to be said that in both instances hospitals are run as businesses nowadays, but only by the upper management. On the frontline professionals such as doctors, nurses, consultants and so on, are only ever patient focused and have no interest in the money which exchanges hands at the top. Clinically, patient care is second to none and that should always be remembered.

Rajesh said : Guest Report 10 years ago

Although, I agree with your discussion. I still feel that as professionals instead of focusing on the 'business' aspect of healthcare, we should direct our efforts in making our clinical skills more sound. Below is a nice website, where you can start. Rajesh http://www.Rxnotes.net 1. Central searchable repository of a pharmacists 'curb-side' notes. 2. Transition between hospital and retail settings, your notes can transition with you, not your job! 3. For access from anywhere, when I do not have direct access to my references/websites. 4. For the Pharmacist, BY the Pharmacist.

Tweets that mention There is nothing like a Dane – when it comes to health and IT | Health Populi -- Topsy.com said : Guest Report 10 years ago

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pia Christensen and healthythinker, Katie Foutz. Katie Foutz said: There is nothing like a Dane – when it comes to health and IT | Health Populi http://t.co/86Sr7aV Proud to be one. A Dane, not a doc. [...]

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