U.S., Europe to promote EHR exchange standards

Exchanging electronic health record data with European colleagues and researchers may become easier with a new international agreement that promotes common interoperability standards.

Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and European Commission for the Digital Agenda Vice President Neelie Kroes signed a memorandum of understanding Dec. 17 in Washington that also supports new education programs on information technology.

Under the agreement, HHS and the European Commission will exchange information about their health IT activities and will establish joint working groups to share goals and organize collaborative scientific conferences and workshops, according to Healthcare IT Management.

The use of EHRs in the U.S. outside hospitals is four times lower than in Europe, according to Healthcare IT Management. In the future, the U.S. will invest about $20 billion in deploying interoperable health records to physicians--which could have a "positive impact on procurement" for European companies in the U.S.

Kroes said that the agreement on "Cooperation Surrounding Health Related Information and Communication Technologies" aims to boost the potential of the health IT market for European companies wishing to do business in the U.S. and vice versa, Government Health IT reports.

In addition, promoting the use of electronic health technologies--with a view to improving the quality of healthcare, reducing medical costs and fostering independent living, including in remote places--is a key objective of the Digital Agenda for Europe, Kroes said.

For more details:
- read this Healthcare IT Management story
- read the Government Health IT article