Go into virtually any GP surgery in Denmark, and you'll see computers in use everywhere. On the receptionist's desk. In the nurse's clinic. On the doctors' desks in the consulting rooms. Integrated electronic patient record systems are so much the norm here that one scarcely gives them a second thought.
But in the USA, it's a very different story. Only 17% of GPs are currently using electronic patient record systems, writes national daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende. Experts have estimated that the US Department of Health can save more than USD 81bn annually and reduce the number of errors if comprehensive use of healthcare IT was made. That is exactly what President Obama wants to see happen, and his administration has earmarked a mind-boggling USD 19bn budget for it.
The US is well aware that Denmark has innovative companies with cutting-edge products in the IT healthcare sector, and that Denmark has plenty of experience in national implementation of IT healthcare systems. It is clear that Danish companies will be viewed with interest in the US, but there is a size and reach problem. In US terms, these companies are tiny, and the big challenge for them is how to quickly get a foothold and achieve adequate coverage in the massive US market.
One obvious solution is to seek partnerships with US companies, and that is what Danish company Systematic, which has developed the electronic patient record system Columna, is looking to do, writes Berlingske Tidende. Systematic also makes products for military applications, and among its acquaintances in this area are Boeing and Lockheed Martin, which themselves both have interests in the healthcare sector.
"Our model is to find a big local partner who can help us adjust our product to the American market," comments Systematic's managing director Michael Holm to Berlingske Tidende.
Steffen Lerche Nielsen of IBM Denmark's healthcare division, sees great potential for Danish exports of healthcare IT to the US, but recognises that it will take some effort.
"Denmark has a favourable position, because the Americans are so aware of the Danish solutions. If we exert ourselves, we have a good chance of getting a healthy slice of the market," he says.