EHR Implementation: Moving Beyond Benchmarks to Real-World Impact

In the quest for “a better Europe,” healthcare stands out as a sector where EU policies can quickly deliver tangible benefits to citizens. The European Commission’s recent study on EHR implementation goes beyond merely listing benchmarks; it emphasises the real-world transformation of healthcare as a result of EHRs. By measuring results, the EU not only bolsters transparency but also shifts from lofty aspirations to concrete benefits. It’s time to intensify this approach.

The Digital Decade Policy Programme 2030 is a comprehensive strategy towards a digital society that includes the promise that by 2030, every EU citizen will have access to their electronic health records (EHRs). This initiative aims to dissolve geographical disparities in healthcare quality and access. By ensuring transparency and empowering individuals, it also bolsters one of the EU’s cornerstone values: the free movement of citizens, underpinned by seamlessly transferable healthcare data.

However, the task of digitizing Europe’s healthcare presents challenges. The Commission often finds itself navigating a delicate balance between its mandate to build a digital society and the fact that healthcare remains primarily under the jurisdication of the Member States. We must also remember that universal health systems are funded through taxes and compulsory insurance contributions. Thus, every step taken toward digital innovation should resonate with clear, immediate benefits for the population. Innovations shouldn’t just be groundbreaking; they must be tangible and relevant to every citizen.

True essence of transformation lies in citizens

The “Digital Decade eHealth Development Indicators” report now spotlights EHR adoption rates across the EU. By categorizing member states from ‘Leapfroggers’ (i.e. Austria and Lithuania) to ‘Tail lights,’ (i.e. France and Romania) it doesn’t just identify laggards but celebrates leaders, urging nations to intensify their contributions to the collective digital vision. This includes bridging data access gaps and championing a harmonized, secure mechanism for health data exchange.

Moreover, the study candidly adresses challenges. Ensuring data accessibility, harmonizing regulations, and aligning with mandates like the Web Accessibility Directive are not mere line items but critical junctures in this transformative journey.

At its heart, the true essence of this transformation lies not in systems or cutting-edge technologies but in the European citizen – be it as healthcare workers, patients or consumers. The responsibility rests on the EU, its member states, and stakeholders to make this transformation tangible. Every citizen’s right to access health data should be recognized not as a distant dream but a pressing obligation. 

After all, the EU’s foundational promise has always been to uplift its citizens. In the realm of healthcare, this promise deserves urgent focus and fulfilment.


  1. empirica Communication and Technology Research “Our contribution to Europe’s digital transformation: a new e-Health indicator” – (accessed 25.09.2023)
  2. Publications Office of the European Union, “Digital decade e-Health indicators development – Final Report” – 25.09.2023)
  3. European Commission, “Europe’s Digital Decade” – (accessed 25.09.2023)
  4. European Commission, “Web Accessibility” – (accessed 25.09.2023)