Nationwide citizen access to their health data: analysing and comparing experiences in Denmark, Estonia and Australia

BMC Health Serv Res. 2017 Aug 7;17(1):534. doi: 10.1186/s12913-017-2482-y.


Background: Most countries face an ageing population, increasing chronic diseased, and constrictions on budget for providing health services. Involving patients in their own care by allowing them access to their patient data is a trend seen in many places.

Methods: Data on the type and level of access citizens have to their own health data in three countries was gathered from public sources.

Results: Data from each individual country is presented and the experiences of Denmark, Estonia and Australia are examined whilst similarities and differences explored. The discussion adopts a citizen-centred perspective to consider how the different e-portal systems support, protect and structure citizen interactions with their own health data in three key areas: Security, privacy and data protection; User support; and Citizen adoption and use.

Conclusions: The paper highlights the impact of opt-in/opt-out approaches on citizen access and the lack of a structured approach to addressing differences in citizen health and e-health literacy. This research also confirms while current data provides detail on the availability and use of personal health data by citizens, questions still remain over the ultimate impact on patient outcomes of these initiatives. It is anticipated the insights generated from the three countries experiences, supporting citizen access to their health data will be useful to improve these initiatives and guide other countries aspiring to support similar initiatives.

Keywords: Electronic health record; Health services; Medical informatics application; Patient centred care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Australia
  • Computer Security*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Denmark
  • Electronic Health Records*
  • Estonia
  • Female
  • Health Literacy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Informatics Applications
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Young Adult