Health Information Systems in the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Short Survey of Experiences and Lessons Learned From the European Region

Elsa Negro-Calduch, Natasha Azzopardi-Muscat, Dorit Nitzan, Richard Pebody, Pernille Jorgensen, David Novillo-Ortiz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number676838
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Volume9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding 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.

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Negro-Calduch, Azzopardi-Muscat, Nitzan, Pebody, Jorgensen and Novillo-Ortiz.

Keywords

  • COVID – 19
  • data
  • health data
  • health information system
  • lessons learned

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