What eHealth can do for you

eHealth is charting successes at home and around the world.  Canadian,  U.S. and European studies show clear evidence of improved service and substantial savings when health organizations implement eHealth technologies:

Canada Health Infoway reports huge potential benefits from EHR

Canada Health Infoway released a landmark study in March 2005 that detailed both the costs and the substantial benefits of a pan-Canadian Electronic Health Record (EHR).  

It presented findings on both start-up costs and potential long-term savings for the health care system.

The 10-year total cost of acquisition for a pan-Canadian EHR is estimated to be $9.99 B CAN:  $1.14B for Physician Practice Systems; $3.9B for Inpatient Systems, $1.8B for a Long-Term Care System; $0.08B for the Home Health extension, and $2.9B for Infostructure costs.

The 10-year total cost of ownership for a pan-Canadian EHR, which includes both acquisition and recurring costs, is estimated to be $22.7 B CAN: $2.5B for Physician Practice Systems; $7.4B for Inpatient Systems, $2.6B for a Long-Term Care System; $0.08B for the Home Health extension, and $10B for Infostructure costs.  Infoway’s estimated cost is $4.1B.

Reduction in adverse drug events is estimated at 29 million events over 20 years, which will yield a cost savings of $48.3 B CAN.

Reduction of duplicate and unnecessary radiologic tests is estimated to yield a cost savings of $3.6 B CAN over 20 years.

Reduction of duplicate and unnecessary laboratory tests is estimated to yield a cost savings of $10.4 B CAN over 20 years.

The return on investment from a pan-Canadian EHR is estimated to have gross benefits exceeding investment dollars by an 8:1 margin, and a net savings of $39.8 B CAN over a 20-year period.

Canada’s cash flow on this investment at a society level is estimated to turn positive during the implementation period, with the investment paid off shortly after completion of the deployment.

In addition to these quantifiable financial benefits, significant qualitative benefits will likely be realized.  Evidence suggests that quality and processes of health care will be greatly improved,  leading to a more patient-centric care environment and improved patient and staff satisfaction.  Chronic diseases may be managed in a more coordinated and efficient manner because information will be more readily shared.  Access to care will be improved and waiting times reduced by improving appointment and scheduling functions, and by increasing the clinical productivity of providers.  Automating key administrative functions and freeing clinical providers from onerous clerical tasks will redirect labor towards more productive clinical activity, which is particularly relevant given the current projected shortages in the health care workforce.  Perhaps the most compelling benefits, however, are the anticipated improvements in patient safety. Although the financial benefits are strong, one could argue that the qualitative benefits, particularly the lives saved, create a moral imperative for implementing an interoperable Pan-Canadian EHR.

– from the Pan-Canadian Electronic Health Record report, March 2005, prepared by Booz/Allan/Hamilton for Canada Health Infoway

Evidence from major U.S. study shows impact of an electronic health record:

RAND study says computerizing medical records in the U.S. could save $81 billion annually and improve the quality of medical care

America's health care system could save more than $81 billion annually and improve the quality of care if it were to broadly adopt computerized medical records, according to a RAND Corporation study released in September 2005 that is the most detailed analysis ever conducted of the potential benefits of electronic medical records.

The study found that electronic medical records systems could save money by reducing redundant care, speeding patient treatment, improving safety and keeping patients healthier.

The study reports that if 90 percent of doctors and hospitals successfully adopt health information technology and use it effectively, resulting efficiencies would total $77 billion annually. The biggest savings would come through: shorter hospital stays prompted by better-coordinated care, less nursing time spent on administrative tasks, better use of medications in hospitals, and better utilization of drugs, labs and radiology services in outpatient settings.

Researchers also estimate that an additional $4 billion would be saved each year because of improved safety, primarily by reducing prescription errors as computerized systems warn doctors and pharmacists of potential mistakes.

The RAND researchers say their findings also suggest that the savings from health information technology could be much higher if the medical sector is able to achieve efficiency gains similar to those experienced by other industries that have embraced technology. If efficiency in the nation's health care system increased by an additional 1.5 percent per year — what economists generally agree was the impact of information technology on the wholesale and retail industry — savings could be as high as $346 billion annually, the study says.

Analysis of Healthcare Interventions that Change Patient Trajectories
By: James H. Bigelow, Katya Fonkych, Constance Fung, Jason Wang for the RAND Corporation, 2005

European study examines 10 sites in 10 countries and finds eHealth success in each one

Health care providers can use eHealth to effectively expand their capacity and performance to meet increasing demand by using their resources to better effect.

A study across a wide range of eHealth applications shows clear evidence of the benefits of information and communication technology in routine health care settings. The benefits range from improvements in quality and better access for all citizens to care, to avoidance of unnecessary cost to the public purse.

The European Commission Directorate General Information Society and Media supported this important contribution to methods for advanced evaluation and the collection of reliable evidence.  The information gathered from 10 sites across Europe clearly shows that eHealth does matter, that it is well worth the investment, and can lead to very substantial benefits.

Ten sites were selected to measure eHealth impact:

  1. AOK Rheinland, Germany – GesundheitsCard Europa (GCE), access to health care abroad and subsequent claims filing simplified through an eHealth application.
  2. Apoteket and Stockholm County Council, Sweden – eRecept, an ePrescribing application enables electronic prescriptions.
  3. City of Bucharest Ambulance Service,  Romania – DISPEC teletriage and dispatch system used eHealth to greatly improve service without adding major infrastructure costs.
  4. Institut Curie, Paris, France – Elios, a comprehensive EPR system, and Prométhée, a sophisticated search meta-engine was put into practice.
  5. IZIP, Czech Republic – a nationwide web-based electronic health record was implemented.
  6. Kind en Gezin, Flanders, Belgium – Flemish vaccination database (FVD) and Vaccinnet, facilitating vaccination programs for children.
  7. MedCom, Denmark – Danish Health Data Network was implemented.
  8. MedicalORDER®center Ahlen (MOC) and St. Franziskus-Hospital Munster – supply chain optimization system was set up in Germany.
  9. NHS Direct, UK – NHS Direct Online (NHSDO) information service
  10. Sollefteå and Borås hospitals; Sjunet, Sweden – radiology consultations between Sweden and Spain were enabled through an eHealth application.

The initial assessment of the performance of all 10 sites shows that eHealth was, and can be expected to be, a significant factor in the improved economic performance of health care.

Results from each site showed that cost savings were truly significant.  From 1994 to 2008, the annual value of benefits grew continuously from below € 20m in 1994 to about € 200m in 2004 and an estimated € 400m in 2008.

For a full description of all 10 sites, and the full report, please go to:


A major finding:

Economic impact on a virtual health economy: the longer you use it, the less it costs.”


eHealth is Worth it
The economic benefits of implemented eHealth solutions at 10 European sites.

Karl A. Stroetmann, Tom Jones, Alexander Dobrev, Veli N. Stroetmann
This paper is part of a Study on the Economic Impact of eHealth (
www.ehealth-impact.org) commissioned by the European Commission Directorate General Information Society and Media, Brussels 2006