Scandinavia has long been considered to be leading the pack in Europe in terms of eHealth. The secret of its success? The Nordic countries take patients and standards seriously. And they are determined to succeed.

Given its geography, which is for Europe at least, pretty unusual, it came as no surprise that Scandinavian countries were among the quickest to adopt IT solutions to improve patient care in remote regions. Tele-ECG scenarios were implemented in some places of Northern Scandinavia as early as the 1980s.

No wonder, then, that eHealth solutions in a more modern sense were also falling on fertile ground in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and the Baltic States.

And a couple of years ago, many Central European countries routinely looked towards Northern Europe for inspiration when it came to implementing shared medical records and electronic health records.

So what is it about these Northern countries? Why do they stay on track with their projects, while other European countries don’t?

It probably comes down to a triad of factors that are at playing out in more or less all of the aforementioned countries.. Politics in Northern European countries are more engaged in eHealth in respect of both content and finances. They are also more inclined than many other countries to rely on and push forward international standards and thus solve interoperability problems permanently. And, above all, they take patients and patient involvement very seriously. There also seems to be more readiness and more willingness to ‘live a digitised life’.

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