May 18, 2020

Webinar guests:
Top row from left: Kathrine Myhre, Norway; Daniel Forslund, Sweden; Bjorn Jonsson, Iceland
Bottom row from left: Claus Pedersen, Denmark; Illka Kunnamo, Finland; Bogi Eliasen, Denmark

Covid-19: Lessons from the Nordics

A recent HIMSS Nordic Community webinar addressed how Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway have enabled a sustainable human-centred health environment that influenced their crisis management during the pandemic.

In August 2019, the Nordic countries embarked on a collaborative, data-driven approach to healthcare. In the HIMSS webinar “Pandemics: How Has Innovation Prepared the Nordic Countries,” health representatives from each country discussed how the Nordic Health 2030 scheme influenced their response to the Covid-19 crisis. It was clear that a shared engagement with digital innovation and integrated data solutions transcended their individual approaches to benefit the Nordic response.

Why it matters

Pre-crisis Denmark already had telemedicine integrated into its healthcare model, so the release of two online consultation tools – Min Laege for GP appointments and another for specialist video-consultations – was achieved within two weeks of the outbreak with immediate uptake. “We’ve spent 20 years preparing the system, creating the infrastructure, pushing for the use of video-consulting and then suddenly it came out of the box,” said Claus Pedersen, director of sentinel unit for the Danish eHealth Portal Sundhed.

Digital healthcare tools were also central to the Finnish healthcare system, with digital prescriptions and the national electronic health record managed by the KANTA Services garnering over one million discrete users per month. This enabled Finland to respond to the crisis early, launching a successful, Covid-19-specific online symptom checker and education tool in just six days. “Now we can record all the data, we can get statistics on the symptoms, and we have research plans to combine all the data from different sources,” commented Ilkka Kunnamo, adjunct professor of general practice at the University of Helsinki.

In order to avoid harsh lockdown restrictions, Iceland implemented strict preventative measures such as extensive testing, tracking and isolation. These were coordinated through a tailor-made clinical portal that utilised existing IT infrastructure. Around 15% of the population have now been tested for the virus and 70% of confirmed cases successfully tracked. “Only 10 patients have died in Iceland due to the Covid-19 virus and the number of new cases is almost zero, so we don’t expect more deaths in this wave,” said Bjorn Jonsson, CIO of Landspitali. “To handle a pandemic like Covid-19 requires a strong IT support and one also has to be able to act fast. Having a flexible EHR system is an important part in that respect.”

Continue to read the full article  in Healthcare IT News
Published 12 May by Sophie Porter

Listen to the full recording of HIMSS webinar:
Pandemics: How Has Innovation Prepared the Nordic Countries?