Adoption of Electronic Medical Records

Health care that is safe, effective, timely, efficient and patient-centred relies on the right information reaching the right person (or organisation) at the right time. A digitalised information infrastructure that ensures timely and reliable sharing of clinical and other information can improve health outcomes and efficiency, and can create valuable data for researchers and system managers (OECD, 2017[1]). The pandemic demonstrated the importance of contemporary information in Electronic Medical Records (EMR), guiding decision-making during a crisis and targeting resources to those who benefit the most.

Many countries are implementing EMRs across multiple health care settings. In 2021, the proportion of primary care physician practices using an EMR was 96% on average across 14 countries (Oderkirk et al., forthcoming[2]) (Figure 8.9). There was less variation between countries in 2021 than in previous surveys, with all countries reporting that 80% or more of primary care physician practices used an EMR.

Almost all (13 of 14) reporting EU countries could share information between physician practices and hospitals about a patient’s current medications. In 2021, an average of 97% of physician’s practices in reporting countries shared this information (Figure 8.10).

Almost all reporting EU countries (12 of 14), Iceland, Norway and Türkiye, defined a minimal dataset or summary record to be shared amongst health care providers treating the same patient. The average proportion of all patients with an EMR containing the minimum dataset was 77%, ranging from 5% in Italy to 100% in five countries (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Luxembourg and Sweden).

Information from EMRs was used during the COVID-19 pandemic, underscoring the value of an integrated information system during times of crisis. Uses across Europe included integration between EMR and tracking and tracing systems (9 of 14 EU countries, Iceland and Türkiye), integration between EMR and COVID-19 certificates (11 of 14 EU countries, Iceland and Türkiye) and post-market surveillance of COVID-19 vaccines (8 of 14 EU countries, Iceland and Türkiye).

Most (10 of 14) EU countries changed or were planning to change their EMRs, due to their pandemic experience. Almost all (12 of 14) countries intend to use data from EMRs for regular national monitoring of health or health care. The ongoing development and integration of EMRs into the wider health ecosystem has the potential to improve the resilience of health systems.


[3] Oderkirk, J. (2017), “Readiness of electronic health record systems to contribute to national health information and research”, OECD Health Working Papers, No. 99, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[2] Oderkirk, J. et al. (forthcoming), “Stocktaking of country level advancements in implementing and utilising EHR systems”, OECD Health Working Papers, OECD Publishing, Paris.

[1] OECD (2017), New Health Technologies: Managing Access, Value and Sustainability, OECD Publishing, Paris,

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