Steps Europe can take to bridge the digital health divide

Health and Wellness Informatics News

Digital health rose to the agenda of the EU. Bauer says that the EU must publicize its digital health programs more.

Europe’s policymakers are promoting an array of digital health programs. This includes the European Health Data Space, which came up this month. However, a lack of awareness and knowledge could prevent their impact.

Kristine Sørensen is a digital health literacy expert based in Denmark. Kristine said that digital health literacy varies across countries and regions — even within families. She prefers to call it a digital spectrum. Recent Eurostat data show that people are increasingly turning to the internet. In addition, they are turning to seek health information online in Europe.

However, the rates are uneven. In Finland, 80% of adults sought information about their health online last year. In Germany just 45%. 2021 WHO report found that there was a slight incline during the pandemic. However, health literacy in Germany declined.

Birgit Bauer is a patient expert and health communication specialist in Germany. Several older Germans are hesitant about digital tools. Trust is also crucial in encouraging the uptake of digital health systems. Anne Moen is a professor at the University of Oslo. Nordic countries have long-established digital services. They also have many interactions with the government already occurring online. In Norway, the same authentication process gets used in banking as in health.

Moen is part of the panel on digital health ecosystems at the HIMSS22 Europe event in Helsinki (14-16 June). She is the coordinator of Gravitate Health. It also aims to improve patient adherence to care protocols through evidence-based digital information.

She stated, “You have to be clever and careful to have systems where the logic is easy to follow in the system. I think it is also a question of carefully selecting what we do first to capitalize on an initial good experience – and again, it’s coming back to giving attractive services that people want to use.” Without efforts, digital health can help in worsening down health inequalities

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