News Release 

Finnish healthcare and social welfare system provides a variety of e-services to citizens

The system presses on towards the next level of usability and interoperability for professionals

National Institute for Health and Welfare

The national monitoring of the availability and use of information systems in healthcare in Finland revealed that the use of e-services in the exchange of health information among health service providers has increased compared to earlier studies performed since 2003.

In particular, the national health information exchange service, Kanta, enables information exchange between private and public health service providers.

"Major progress has been made in the range of e-health services available to citizens," says Professor Jarmo Reponen from the University of Oulu.

"In addition to electronic appointment bookings and advisory services, citizens can view their own data and communicate with health services more frequently than they could three years ago."

In the e-welfare sector, the supply of electronic services that are available to citizens and clients has increased, especially in the public sector. The integrating national infrastructure is actively being developed and currently several electronic document specifications and a client data repository as a part of Kanta Services in social welfare are in development.

However, there is a need for information management tools for professionals working in social services.

A drug interaction alert system is already being widely used

Clinical decision support (CDS) systems add intelligence to the healthcare systems and are both more frequently available and more likely to be integrated into the electronic patient record system compared with when the previous survey was conducted.

The most commonly integrated CDS tools are drug interaction alert systems.

"It is extremely important that we have these warning systems which improve patient safety and increase the quality of care. Moreover, in the future, we shall need even more advanced tools to support clinical workflow and the management of care on a daily basis," emphasises Professor Reponen.

Healthcare professionals are proficient users of electronic patient information systems and want to be part of their development

Nurses rate themselves as proficient users when assessing their competence in using electronic data and information systems. However, poor functionalities of information systems may jeopardise information flow and disturb nurses' work processes.

"When data cannot be accessed in a timely manner or the same data is stored in multiple systems, severe safety concerns, difficulties in decision-making, deficiencies in information exchange, and frustration in work processes may arise," highlights Professor Kaija Saranto from the University of Eastern Finland.

Healthcare professionals are keen to be involved in developing information systems. However, because of changes in the working environment, healthcare professionals need more training in the use of information systems and e-services.

Physicians' user experiences of electronic patient record systems have slightly improved compared with the results of two earlier surveys. However, there are still clear areas for improvement, for example information retrieval from other organisations is estimated to be as time consuming as it was in 2010.

The practical application of healthcare and social welfare data will be monitored and assessed regularly based on a national strategy

The Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has regularly commissioned national surveys on e-health and e-welfare to monitor the current state and trends in e-health and e-welfare in Finland to gather evidence for use in future development.

The national e-health and e-welfare strategy, 'Information to support well-being and service renewal. eHealth and eSocial Strategy 2020' set the goals for the monitoring.

The information was drawn from five nationwide e-health and e-welfare surveys. The survey aimed at citizens measures e-health and e-welfare service use and utilisation.

Two surveys were targeted at organisations (healthcare/social care), and measure the availability and use of e-health tools and services as well as the availability of e-welfare tools and services. Two surveys were targeted at professionals (physicians and nurses), and measure usability and the benefits of e-health tools and services. All the surveys were produced as part of the project on the Monitoring and assessment of social welfare and health care information system services (STePS 2.0 project).

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The current report was produced by the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), FinnTelemedicum Centre of Excellence for Telehealth at the University of Oulu, Aalto University, the University of Eastern Finland (UEF) and the Finnish Medical Association.

Vehko, T; Ruotsalainen, S; Hyppönen, H (eds.) E-health and e-welfare of Finland. Checkpoint 2018. National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). 193 pages. Helsinki, Finland 2019. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-343-326-7

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