The digital doctor will see you now

When it comes to eHealthcare services, Sweden leads the world

Doctor and nurse illustrationDo you need practical advice on a medical condition? Or maybe you want to compare health centers in your area and find out what other users think of them. Either way, 1177.se is there to help. It’s a public service website supplying healthcare information to Swedish citizens – and it’s the first such network in the world.

The website is jointly owned by all Sweden’s counties and healthcare regions, and is a resource that anyone can turn to when they need trustworthy, professional advice on care and illness, wherever they are in the country. It’s closely connected with the 1177 telephone information service, as both are based on the same medical database.

1177.se is a product of the Swedish National IT Strategy, first formulated in 2006, whose main purpose was to pave the way towards better healthcare. This led to the Patient Data Act, which streamlined all hospitals’ patient record systems, as well as the infrastructure needed to securely log in to these systems.

Healthcare across borders

In early 2010, the National IT Strategy increased its municipal focus. Several new services were introduced, and Inera AB (formerly SVR), a software company jointly owned by the Swedish counties, was commissioned to implement them.

A further result of this initiative is the National Patient Overview (NPÖ – www.cehis.se), a new portal enabling doctors and medical staff to read patient records across municipal and county borders. The doctors log in with the electronic SITHS Card to guarantee absolute secrecy when handling patient data. This will greatly enhance patient safety and make the staff’s job easier and less time-consuming. However, SITHS Card or not, the patient’s consent is still necessary before any doctor is able to access a patient’s history, says Lars Petter, a spokesperson for Inera AB.

Stockholm’s digital lifesavers

Another innovation is the SMSLivräddare (Text Message Lifesaver) project. Every year, some 900 Stockholmers suffer heart failure when out of reach of a hospital. Most do not survive. In April 2010, the Södersjukhuset hospital and Karolinska Institutet introduced SMSLivräddare, where people in Stockholm with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) knowledge can use their skills to help.

SMSLivräddare is a unique project that uses GPS tracking to increase the chances of survival in the case of heart failure outside hospitals. When the emergency services receive an alarm about a possible heart failure, a member of the project will be directed to the distressed person via their mobile phone. So far, about 1,000 potential lifesavers have signed up, vividly demonstrating how technology can be used in ways that could never before have been imagined.

Extracted from our magazine supplement about Digital Sweden

"It’s a relief that I don’t have to talk to my doctor every time I need to renew a prescription. I just use my personal code and send her a message online. The pharmacy has it ready for me to collect the next day."
Monica Nilsson, 52, freelance journalist, Åmål

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