HINE is taking the pulse of Europe's e-health market

Diegem 18 March 2005Are Europe's hospitals equipped to meet e-health opportunities? This type of issue was covered by the Health Information Network Europe (HINE) in the largest ever survey of hospitals in Europe, just one of a range of studies it offers members. This unparalleled survey involved telephone interviews with hospital CIOs in 900 hospitals in 15 countries.

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"The hospital census provides a unique benchmark of how sophisticated hospitals are today in terms of e-health usage", explained Véronique Lessens, HINE project manager at Deloitte.

According to Véronique Lessens, the results, which emerged in October 2004, paint a very accurate picture in each country of how ready hospitals actually are by looking at implementation, barriers, infrastructure, IT spend etc. Deployment of IT in many sectors has delivered major transformational change and has the potential to improve health care significantly in terms of access to health services, improved quality of care and acceptable levels of patient safety, and radical improvement in service productivity. But why has this not happened in European hospitals?

While the HINE survey results indicate similar levels of decision support/e-prescribing in United States and European hospitals, the way the architecture is deployed is currently far more advanced in the United States than in Europe. Major issues in Europe also include a relatively low level of hospital IT spending (EU15 average of 1,8 percent of total hospital revenue), an under-developed infrastructure (EU15 average of 3,52 staff per workstation), lack of information for decision making at all levels, overall reluctance to use external skills and general lack of understanding of the strategic value of ICT.

HINE plans to showcase the top-level results of this survey at the third European eHealth conference, which will take place in Tromsø, Norway, 23-24 May 2005, expected to attract 400-500 ministers, officials and experts. HINE expects to extend the survey to other countries and is looking at ways to refresh the data. Currently HINE plans to repeat the survey at least every three years.

But HINE has more to offer. "HINE has been designed as a way to open dialogue between industry and decision makers across Europe", continued Véronique Lessens. "It provides market information to the IT industry and helps shapes how e-health is dealt with in Europe." This means also taking account of developments elsewhere in the world and benchmarking European systems against the United States, Asia Pacific and other world markets for health care ICT.

The HINE service started with the help of European Union funding as an IST programme project. It evolved into a self-sustaining subscription-based service hosted by Deloitte when start-up funding ended in 2003. Although different yearly subscription models exist, the majority of its subscriber organisations are leading edge companies such as Agfa, CISCO, HP, iSoft, McKesson, Microsoft, Philips, SAP, Siemens, to name but a few.

Since its launch in 2001 HINE has provided health care ICT intelligence on markets in eleven countries and analysed the needs of patients, GPs, hospitals, payers, public authorities and industry in each. To date Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have all been covered. These country reports provide subscribers with a consistent framework to track penetration of e-health into European health care service delivery.

National roadshows complement and promote these market profiles. Last year the HINE roadshow in France brought together HINE companies, Ministry of Health's representatives, key stakeholders including GMSIH and leading French hospitals such as Assistance Public-Hôpitaux de Paris to hear and discuss the latest market findings and company presentations.

Alongside the ongoing programme of country and pan-European market analysis, specific studies are undertaken in key areas that reflect the strategic interests of HINE subscribers. In 2004 for example, HINE looked at the issues surrounding patient safety and Computerised Physician Order Entry, e-prescribing, mobile and wireless devices, clinical transformation and BPR in health care, and plans in 2005 to report on electronic patient/health records and the use of mobile and wireless devices, the platform strategy for hospitals in Europe and e-hospital market metrics.

Through workshops HINE previews its strategic research, briefing subscribers, and invites guest speakers to address stakeholders and user representatives, another HINE channel for networking and interaction. "HINE provides an appropriate mechanism for industry to understand the e-health market in Europe and see how to move specific areas with promising growth", stated Véronique Lessens summarising. "It allows the health care ICT industry to contribute to discussions with decision makers in the European Commission and Member States."

For more information you can contact Véronique Lessens, Deloitte – HINE, Berkenlaan 8b, B-1831 Diegem, Belgium, Tel.: +32-2-8002849 or visit the HINE project Web site. This article was reprinted from the IST Results Web site. More details on HINE are available in the VMW May 2002 article HINE network builds on HIST study to anticipate ICT needs in European health care market.


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