E-health is defined as "the use of emerging information and communication interactive technology, especially the Internet, to improve or enable health and healthcare". According to the European Commission, e-health includes all ICT applications of a public health system. e-health solutions include instruments for administrations, health professionals and citizens: e.g., digital certificates and prescriptions, Electronic Health Records (EHR), electronic booking systems, telemedicine. In a health system, e-health causes product and process innovations to which various disciplines can contribute (among which computer science, medicine, economics and statistics). e-health development cannot be planned without an adequate knowledge of the phenomenon. To this aim relevant and accurate data are needed. The aim of this paper is twofold: i) to make a review of the main statistical sources currently available in Italy on e-health and analyze their potential and drawbacks; ii) to analyze data from a recent survey on e-health to evaluate its implementation across Italian regions. Methods and Results We carry out a Principal Component Analysis on data of the LITIS (Livelli di Innovazione Tecnologica in Sanità) survey 2009 promoted and financed by Federsanità- ANCI. Results show that e-health development is higher in the Northern and Central regions and that a low correspondence exists between supply and use of electronic health services. Moreover, findings of this work show that in Italy e-health is developing by stand-alone initiatives without harmonization at regional and local level. The IT network inside a single hospital trust (i.e. net among doctors, nurses, pharmacies) is more developed than the regional one (that is usually composed by interoperable information systems of a single region). Furthermore, initiatives for digital education of health professionals are highly associated with electronic services, in particular telemedicine, electronic referral and on line communication. Conclusions The vast majority of empirical studies in Europe indicate that e-health success is closely linked with policy objectives. To such aim qualitative and quantitative studies are needed. Findings of this work highlight that a major integration among e-health initiatives is needed in Italy and pave the way for future research on such topic in our country.
Keywords: E-health, health system, health policies, statistical data and indicators, Principal Component Analysis
Jel Code: I10, I11, I18, H51, H75