The network has its origin in the transnational project with the same name “eHealth for Regions”. The project ran from June 2004 until May 2007 and was part-financed by the European Union within the frame of the Baltic Sea Region Interreg III B programme. On the basis of the results and the built network of persons and organisations, the Political Strategic Board of the project was proposed to continue the work after the end of the funding period. The legal basis of the network is a network agreement signed by the Political Strategic Board in May 2007 which defines the network structure and tasks.
In 2007 the participants of the Interreg-Project „eHealth for Regions“ decided to stay together in a network to secure project results and to communicate the opportunities of eHealth applications for the Health Care Systems in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). They signed a network agreement and founded the eHealth for Regions Network, which was the first transnational network dealing with eHealth in the Northern part of Europe. Since 2008 the Management Secretariat is hosted at Flensburg University of Applied Sciences.
From 2008 until today many projects have run in the six countries of the Baltic Sea Region, which are represented in the eHealth for Regions Network. The network members represent all relevant actors in the Health Care System. They believe in the opportunities of eHealth services to secure quality and efficiency in modern Health Care Systems and to overcome the tremendous challenges (see below). Therefore the network has established regular meetings in present and virtually to exchange experiences and knowledge and to share those between the network partners. The network can be seen as an incubator of innovative ideas in the field of eHealth. This role was confirmed by the Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being (NDPHS). They awarded the network as an Associated Expert Group within the NDPHS in 2013.
Today the Baltic Sea Region is the leading region regarding eHealth services in Europe. The Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems for example in Estonia, Sweden or Denmark are benchmarks for all other countries in Europe. In addition, telemedicine services are widespread in the Scandinavian countries. It is our vision to develop all these services further for the benefit of the citizens and patients. It is our task to underline the leading role of our regions in developing new ideas in the field of eHealth services.
All our Health Care Systems are facing the following challenges:
⇒ Tight budget
⇒ Demographic change
⇒ Increase of chronical ill patients
⇒ Lack of (young) health care providers
(e.g. doctors) – especially in rural areas.
We are convinced that more eHealth services will have the capability to overcome these challenges and to sustain our level of Health Care in the future.
Using these services, it will be possible to increase productivity (means e.g. more patient at one time; less travel times; less double investigations) by implementing more
Especially the EHR is a basic application because it secures access to all data in patient´s history to all service providers. In the existing EHR-systems the patient has the right to retrieve all data stored about him. An EHR is a MUST as a platform for integrated Health Care services!
These telemedicine applications are more often used as doc-to-doc (d2d) services, rarely in doc-to-patient (e.g. telemonitoring) settings. A change is needed here regarding the changing role of citizens and patients from a rather passive actor to empowered and engaged citizens / patients. New eHealth service will have the capability to enhance and strenghten the Health Literacy of the patient, which will lead to a reduction of demands. Exemplary applications are:
⇒ Health portals
⇒ Personal health record.
To improve the Health Literacy by also improving the eHealth Literacy will be the main field of activities for the network within the next three to five years.
eHealth is the use, in the health sector, of digital data - transmitted, stored and retrieved electronically - in support of health care, both at the local site and at a distance. Main fields of eHealth are Records (EPR; HER; PHR), Telemedine (D2D; D2P) and Health Care Portals - used very often by patients/citizen.
The WHO defines Health Literacy as the totality of all cognitive and social skills which motivates people and enables them to adopt a health-promoting lifestyle. Health Literacy is seen as the key for health-promoting behaviour.
„eHealth Literacy is the ability to seek, find, understand and appraise health information from electronic resources and apply such knowledge to adressing or solving a health problem“.
For visualisation of eHealth Literacy the LILY-model is meainly used (see below).
(Stellefson at all, 2011)
In the following figure the leading role of Baltic Sea Region countries become obvious.
Position of network member countries in relation to other European countries
(cutting from http://is.jrc.ec.europa.eu/pages/TFS/EHS.html).
|Place||Country||Result (max. 1,0)|
|Average EU + 3||0,295|
In addition, the European Health Consumer Index underlines that eHealth Services are widely used in the member states.