The tortoise and the hare?
A study of ICT use among GPs in Europe (944k pdf download in the site) carried out by Empirica in association with IPSOS on behalf of the European Commission was published on Monday. The study charts the growing role of e-health applications, and significant country differences.
‘Europe is starting to reap the benefits of broadband connections in the e-health sector,’ said the enthusiastic EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding. ‘It is now time to use these electronic services much more widely to bring extraordinary benefits to all patients, all over Europe.’
Denmark, Europe’s leader in high speed internet connection, has the highest number of GPs using broadband (91 percent) and of email communication with patients (about 60 percent), followed by the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and the UK.
Countries with the most ground to make up are Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania; only 5 percent of doctors in Romania use computers at all. GPs in this group cite a lack of training and technical support as major barriers.
Sixty-six percent of Euro-GPs use computers for consultations. Patient data is stored electronically in 80 percent of surgeries, of which 92 percent store data on diagnoses and medication, and 35 percent store radiological images. Forty percent of GPs transfer data electronically with laboratories, but only 10 percent do so with other health centres.
Three key areas of very low uptake were identified: e-prescribing is practiced by just six percent of GPs; cross-border patient data exchange by only one percent; and the remote monitoring of patients, used by nine percent of GPs in Sweden and three percent in Iceland and the Netherlands.
Only ten European companies made it into the top 50 of BusinessWeek’s 2008 World's Most Innovative companies. Only Nokia (just) made it into the top 10.
‘China produces more scientists and engineers every year than we have in all of Europe,’ said Imperial College London’s Professor of Innovation Management, John Bessant. ‘We’ve got to innovate twice as fast.’ Per capita, presumably; and more than twice as fast, surely.
BW’s follow-up report on European companies, however, found that in several key segments such as mobile telecoms and autos, ‘European companies are powerful, even dominant forces for innovation.’ Also, much innovation in Europe comes from SMB, which do not show up in such surveys – although of course US dominance rests on a far greater pool.
BW endorsed last year’s Global Innovation Index compiled by Insead, the French business school, which ranked innovation by country rather than by companies. The US was first by a wide margin, but Germany was second and 5 of the top 10 were European countries.
The UK scored well in the Insead study, ranking second to Singapore in institutions and policies, third to the US and Japan in technological sophistication, and second to the US in business markets and capital. Britain was also among the top five in wealth, knowledge, and competitiveness, but was out of the running in human capacity and infrastructure. No surprise there.
BW concludes that Europe’s key failings remain in the fields of venture capital, on the fact that only Britain has world-class research universities, and on the reflexive protectionism of many European governments, which relieves ‘national champions’ of pressure to innovate.
Police data sharing
The European Parliament voted yesterday to accept the Treaty of Prüm, signed in 2005 by Germany, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and Italy. The treaty calls for data sharing between European police forces.
This follows the pattern set by the border-abolishing 1990 Schengen Convention and its hundreds of implementing measures (acquis), which was never even discussed by the five founding members’ parliaments. Schengen and its acquis became European law by the May 1999 Treaty of Amsterdam.
The Prüm treaty is studiedly vague about what data police forces should be allowed to share and in what circumstances. MEPs proposed that the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) should supersede national data protection authorities in the oversight of data exchanges.
Last year the EDPS criticised Prüm’s democratic legitimacy. It remains to be seen whether the European Council will pay any attention to the privacy concerns expressed by MEPs.
Firefox gaining ground
An analysis of browser market share in March by XiTi, a French web metrics company, shows that open source Firefox now has a 29 percent market share in Europe and is growing steadily. Market penetration is approaching 50 percent in Finland, Poland and Slovenia.
Firefox market share is notably higher at weekends, suggesting that its growth may be coming mainly from domestic users. The browser’s popularity will presumably surge again when Firefox 3 emerges from beta later this year.