Healthcare IT is about international standards, or so certain sections of the industry would have us believe.. The reality, however, is that while some European countries are having positive experiences with complying stringently with international standards, others are far more relaxed and continue to reinvent their own standards time and again, be it for electronic patient records, emergency data or medication plans.

In this piece, HIMSS Insights speaks with both sides of the argument – Daniel Grandt of the German Medical Association gives a perspective on why Germany’s new unified medication plan is not built on international standards. Meanwhile, Austria’s epSOS co-ordinators, International Consultant for eHealth, Gottfried Heider and Robert Scharinger from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health argue how international standards still receive too little attention in the implementation of national eHealth projects (‘fundamental standards are just not there’), and how they have developed cross-border document exchange for European healthcare within the scope of epSOS.

So, should we abandon national standards to build bridges throughout European healthcare? The inquiry reveals unanimous consent among all parties. How we go about achieving this, however, is not quite so self-evident!

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