Capturing change: Towards better health information systems in Europe (W6)

As one of the last sessions of the EHFG, the WHO Regional office for Europe hosted the “Capturing change” workshop, in which some of the main challenges of collecting quality health information were presented, as well as actions that are being taken to address them.

Christopher Fearne, Caroline Costongs, Anna Korotkova, Claudia Stein, Niek Klazinga

Christopher Fearne, Caroline Costongs, Anna Korotkova, Claudia Stein, Niek Klazinga

At the beginning of the session, Claudia Stein, Director of the Division of Information, Evidence, Research and Innovation at the WHO Regional Office for Europe, emphasized that there is currently a gap between scientific evidence on one side and health policy on the other side. In order to bridge this gap, more and better health information is needed for evidence-based policy making. There are several challenges the WHO is facing right now, as they are the institution with the core mandate to monitor health status internationally: health information in Europe is fragmented and expertise scattered; member states’ information is often incomplete, not harmonized with international standards, and the reporting systems are not integrated – in general Europe is lacking integrated health information system. Additionally, the networks that exist are often created ad-hoc and based on personal relationships only.

The WHO is addressing these challenges by having established the European Health Information Initiative, an initiative with the aim to improve the evidence (on which the policy is based) by providing guidance on health information activities in the WHO Europe region. Its ultimate aim is then to create an integrated health information system in Europe.

This is just one of the many activities that are being undertaken to improve health information and different aspects that influence its quality. Cultural contexts of well-being are being explored in order to investigate the influence of culture on well-being measurement more systematically; a Health Statistics App has been developed in order to make the collected data more accessible to the general public; the Panorama peer-reviewed journal is issued four times a year to help with the dissemination of best practices and successful implementation of evidence-informed policies;  and numerous health information networks are being established in Europe that provide the platform for exchange of good practices and help with harmonizing the collection of data.

Although a huge amount of work is being done in order to address the challenges in obtaining quality health information, other panellists and the audience reminded us that we must not forget about thinking about issues regarding the collection of data also from the bottom up perspective. How do we make sure the patient’s information is protected if his data is being collected? How do we establish trust between providers of data and the data collectors? How do we make sure we don’t overburden the collectors of data with additional administrative work in their already very long list of papers they have to process? And how do we stop thinking about health information only from the medical perspective, but expand it to be more interdisciplinary? Those were just some of the thought-provoking questions that were raised throughout the discussion of this very interactive session.


This Blog was written by the Young Gasteiner Daša Kokole



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