When Estonia became an independent state in Europe in 1991 no one would have thought that in just over a quarter of a century would be known as the “European Silicon Valley”. The Baltic State has developed a sophisticated society in which citizens have digital access to all public services including Health, Education, Legal and other Governmental Services.
Estonia’s Government is called e-Estonia and it integrates all type of public services delivered digitally. One of the keys to its development is the fact that Estonia created an open and decentralised system that connects services and databases with each other. “The modular nature of e-Estonias’s flexible component systems means it’s easy to add e-services in the future, allowing government systems to grow”, as stated in the Components for Digital Societies website.
eHealth: a model to follow
eHealth is an important part of Estonia’s digital society. Its healthcare system uses digital solutions “to make the system more flexible, improve the health of people by exercising more efficient preventive measures, increase the awareness of patients and also save billions of euros”, said Former President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
The Electronic Health Record was introduced in 2008 and since then it has added an important number of new services demanded by citizens. It integrates data from Estonia’s different healthcare providers, who might be using different systems, and presents it in a standard format. It can be accessed by doctors and patients. Doctors can read test results as soon as they are entered and, in an emergency situation, they can use a patient’s ID card to read time-critical information, such as blood type, recent treatments or allergies.
Patients have access to their own records by logging into a patient portal with an electronic ID Card and they can control which doctors have access to their files. Health data belongs to patients. The electronic healthcare system also compiles data for national statistics, so the Government can be aware of health trends and track epidemics. The Government uses Blockchain technology to ensure data integrity.
Why Estonia is good for business
The fact that one can register a new company online in just a few minutes facilitates innovation and promotes entrepreneurship. As a result of this open-mindedness, Estonia has seen the creation of successful companies like Skype (2003), TransferWise (2011) and GrabCAD. Estonia is a good place for health tech entrepreneurs and investors. Among other factors highlighted by Connected Health Estonia, 97% of the country’s prescriptions are digital; 5% of the population are gene donors; the nation-wide Personalised Medicine initiative is a potential partner to many international co-operations.
Next stop: eHealth Tallinn
eHealth Tallinn: 'Health in the Digital Society. Digital Society for Health' will take place in 16-18 October in the Estonian capital. Organised by the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs as part of Estonia’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, ECHAlliance and HIMSS Europe, the event is an opportunity to discover how digital technologies and the wider use of health data are changing our lives and the ways of healthcare.
The conference will focus on three main topics:
- Building citizen-driven demand in eHealth
- eHealth supporting the value driven and sustainable health and social services
- eHealth as a driver of innovation and economic development
eHealth Tallinn is expected to gather hundreds of European healthcare IT leaders and professionals in the health tech sector.
We recommend you not to miss this great opportunity to gather knowledge and to get to know the key to becoming the European Silicon Valley in digital health.