Introduction: The COVID-19 crisis provides an opportunity to reflect on what worked during the pandemic, what could have been done differently, and what innovations should become part of an enhanced health information system in the future. Methods: An online qualitative survey was designed and administered online in November 2020 to all the 37 Member States that are part of the WHO European Health Information Initiative and the WHO Central Asian Republics Information Network. Results: Nineteen countries responded to the survey (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Russian Federation, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan). The COVID-19 pandemic required health information systems (HIS) to rapidly adapt to identify, collect, store, manage, and transmit accurate and timely COVID-19 related data. HIS stakeholders have been put to the test, and valuable experience has been gained. Despite critical gaps such as under-resourced public health services, obsolete health information technologies, and lack of interoperability, most countries believed that their information systems had worked reasonably well in addressing the needs arising during the COVID-19 pandemic. Conclusion: Strong enabling environments and advanced and digitized health information systems are vital to controlling epidemics. Sustainable finance and government support are required for the continued implementation and enhancement of HIS. It is important to promote digital solutions beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time to discuss potential solutions to obtain timely, accurate, and reliable health information and steer policy-making while protecting privacy rights and meeting the highest ethical standards.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank the WHO European Health Information Initiative (EHII) and the WHO Central Asian Republics Information Network (CARINFONET) for their participation and contribution in this study.
© Copyright © 2021 Negro-Calduch, Azzopardi-Muscat, Nitzan, Pebody, Jorgensen and Novillo-Ortiz.
- COVID – 19
- health data
- health information system
- lessons learned