The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how digital health is now an essential part of any healthcare system, an innovative approach to the management of healthcare in society, and a vital tool in the search for better healthcare solutions. The current health crisis has led to a significant increase in the adoption of new care pathways and digital technologies.
The development of digital health has been given further impetus with funding from the NextGenerationEU recovery fund being allocated to Italy and other countries in the European Union.
In particular, it is believed that part of the funds will be used to promote EHR adoption, in line with the weight given to this topic in the recent Decree No. 22 of 1 March 2021, which has made the president of the council and the Interministerial Committee for Digital Transition directly responsible for management of EHRs. However, to be compliant with the demands of the European Commission, the means to be used to finance and launch projects that include the promotion of digital health must be defined in detail.
Using this context, the HIMSS Italian Community and partners analysed opportunities for the expansion of EHR adoption in Italy. To this end, we’ve focused on two areas: 1) a definition of the EHR and the current level of adoption, and 2) opportunities that exist to expand the use of EHRs and actions that can be initiated to make the most of these opportunities. These may include:
It is clear that the EHR has the potential to greatly expand the use of digital health in Italy and its implementation and expansion should be a common goal for all those involved in the healthcare system. However, in order for EHRs to be used as they should be, people need to be steered away from the notion that the EHR is just a regulatory item and it must be made compliant with the regulations on data management.
This cannot be considered as the point of departure or arrival and must, instead, be accompanied by the will to think in terms of digital services that are capable of responding to the actual needs of groups of users (the public, patients, general practitioners/paediatricians, specialists, etc.). A debate should be launched on this topic involving political decision-makers on the one hand and technicians on the other in order to come up with a pragmatic action plan, for which the actions described in this document could be considered as a starting point, to be implemented in the short or medium term.