Finland develops national electronic data system for health care

New standardized electronic archive is expected to improve quality of health care in Finland and enable patients to see their health data online.

Finland is starting to implement a new national electronic data system, which has been under development for almost a decade. According to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the new system is made up of patient data records and electronic prescriptions, and also offers patients the possibility to see their own health data online. The system covers public primary health care and specialist medical treatment plus private medical treatment.

The system is expected to support efforts to strengthen primary health care and increase the options for selecting where treatment is carried out. In optimal cases, the electronic data system will improve the quality and outcome of treatment while reducing costs, according to Kari Välimäki, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry. It is also expected to improve the rights of patients, reduce the duplication of medical tests and help with the follow up to treatment, according to the ministry.

The pilot scheme for electronic prescriptions will begin this year, followed by the national patient data archive, which will provide doctors with the latest information on their patients and be available at all levels of the health service throughout the country.

Välimäki believes that Finland could be an international model for the use of electronic data in the field of health care, combining for combining its high level of service expertise in health care with a proficiency in information technology. The ministry is currently working on a legislative amendment on the use of electronic patient archives so that procedures for granting consent concerning their use will be more flexible.

Source: Ministry for Social Affairs and Health