Interview with Estonian Minister of Health and Labour, Jevgeni Ossinovski

Posted on: 10.07.2017

Danielle Siarri, MSN, RN, connects with Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski of Estonia. Jevgeni Ossinovski is the Minister of Health and Labour of the Republic of Estonia from 23 November 2016. He has been the Chairman of the Social Democratic Party since 30 May 2015. eHealth Tallinn conference’s goal is to further the conversation on Health in the Digital Society and Digital Society for Health by patient driven health data, value for care, and eHealth guiding innovation and economics in healthcare.

What does the European Union (EU) presidency mean to Estonia’s digital health society?

One of our Presidency high-level conferences will be Health in the Digital Society and Digital Society for Health. The conference will provide a real-world experience about the state-of-the-art situation on digital health solutions: how it will affect the everyday experience of citizens, businesses, researchers, health systems and societies overall.  It creates an opportunity for the decision makers and stakeholders to learn about most recent policy and technological developments and to be part of the discussions to shape the roadmap of actions under the Digital Single Market strategy to achieve full benefits of digital health at the individual and societal level.

The conference will provide a real-world experience about the state-of-the-art situation on digital health solutions

What does eHealth mean to Estonia’s citizens?

During the informal meeting of the Ministers of Health in Tallinn (June 20-21), we plan to discuss advancing digital innovation in health with focus on the opportunities of the digital single market, overcoming barriers to data-driven innovation, cross-border movement of data for the purposes of treatment and research. In addition, citizens’ right to access, control and manage their own health data will be among the topics to be discussed. By the end of this year we plan to agree on the Council Conclusions, to gain political endorsement from the health ministries for the future eHealth agenda and for cross-border cooperation in this field.

What is the future of sustainable healthcare?

"The future is already here - it's just not evenly distributed” as William Gibson has said (in 2003). The future of health will be personal and health systems will be held accountable, as it is today, except for the fact that we know much more about each individual and digital tools help us to provide care with higher precision and better coordination, but also to steer our health system financing with measurable outcomes in mind to maintain the systems sustainability. This future has silently arrived to stay.

Who controls personal health data in Estonia?

It is within public interests that healthcare systems target their efficiency gaps because this helps to ensure health systems sustainability. If we expect citizens to take better control of their own health and our health systems to respond more precisely to our patients’ individual needs we must enhance the citizens’ control of their health data and empower them to use it for their own benefit. I believe that everybody should have convenient and trustworthy solution for managing of their personal health data digitally.

What are some of the takeaways that Estonia can share to continue the conversation during eHealth Tallinn?

  • 100% of family doctor’s offices and hospitals using medical records for already more than ten years
  • 100% of health care providers exchange their medical files with all other care providers
  • 99% of total prescriptions digital (e-prescriptions)
  • 70% of doctors' referrals digital
  • 30% of the adult population accessing their medical files online in the national health information system
  • 5% of our adult population has donated their blood to genome bank to get their genes genotyped; and 70% would be willing to be part of it should state provide them such an opportunity

The European Union 28 member state faces the challenge of cross-border data sharing, electronic health records, e-prescriptions, ageing populations, value for all citizens. The benefit from the six-month tenure is that at each EU presidency allows each member state the opportunity to share best practices during their e-health week tenure and address these challenges put forth by all nations in the EU.

The benefit, for all the participates that come to Estonia for eHealth Tallinn is to have a voice and address these challenges and opportunities for each citizen to have access to their own digital health, value for care and to be the steward in their own care.

Danielle Siarri, MSN, RN

Nurse Informatics Specialist and Health IT Advisor

Ammende.info, France/Canada/USA