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A new study has looked at Nordic citizens' experiences and attitudes towards digital health.

Digital health data falls short in aiding Norwegians manage their health

While most Norwegians report having good access to their digital health data, they seldom utilise it. Less than one in three agree that the access has helped them to manage their health better.

There is a willingness to share personal health data. However, the willingness to share data for research is lower than for individual treatment.

This is revealed by a study conducted by the Nordic eHealth Research Network (NeRN). More than three-quarters in Norway agree they have adequate access to their digital health data online.

33 percent believe digital health data has helped them better understand their health. Only 29 percent say it has helped them manage their health better.

Nordic eHealth survey

The Nordic Network for e-Health Research (NeRN), part of the Nordic Council of Ministers and e-health group, conducted a study on Nordic citizens' experiences, use of, and attitudes towards digital health systems.

The survey was carried out with over 5,000 individuals in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland in February and March 2023.

Many are already digital

The study aimed to explore Nordic citizens' experiences and attitudes towards digital health. This includes how they access and use these services and health data.

“The results are exciting. We see somewhat similar tendencies in the Nordic countries, but there are also some interesting differences,” Espen Nordheim says.

He is a research coordinator at the Department for Integrated Care at the Norwegian Centre for e-Health Research.

Espen Nordheim, research coordinator at the Norwegian Centre for E-health Research.

“A large group is already digital. However, it's important that we take care of those who are not digital, so that digital exclusion does not create larger disparities,” he says.

10 per cent need help

The vast majority of citizens use digital health services.

However, around 10 per cent say they need help or assistance to use digital solutions, or that they do not use digital e-health solutions at all.

77 per cent of the citizens surveyed in Norway agree that they have sufficient access to their digital health data.

Finns are most satisfied

When asked if they agree that they have sufficient access to their digital health data online, citizens of the Nordic countries responded as follows:

  • Finland: 89 per cent
  • Denmark: 83 per cent
  • Sweden: 79 per cent
  • Norway: 77 per cent
  • Iceland: 67 per cent

Two-thirds of Finns and Icelanders believe that the digitalisation of the healthcare system can help solve structural problems facing the healthcare system. Optimism is slightly lower in the Scandinavian countries (42–54 per cent).

Prefer to share data for treatment

Findings on citizens' willingness to share personal health data, especially for treatment purposes and research, are interesting. The overall willingness to share data is at least 10 percentage points lower for research purposes than for individual treatment purposes.

59 per cent are willing to share digital health data about their medical history for use in research. The corresponding figures for diagnoses are 57 per cent for medications/prescriptions, it is 60 per cent. 56 per cent are willing to share test results and laboratory data, 60 per cent are willing to share vaccination data, and 52 per cent are willing to share allergy data. 

On average, fewer are willing to share data about referrals, online bookings, and health data they have collected and generated on their own. This suggests we are more willing to share data that may be necessary if we need treatment.

11 per cent of Norwegian citizens and 15 per cent of Finns are not willing to share any of their digital health data for research purposes.

“We want to look more closely at these findings with regard to the development of a common European health data area,” Nordheim says. 

The goal of the European Health Data Space (EHDS) is to promote safe access to and exchange of health data across borders, he explains.

Fewer have received help

Question: Has access to my digital health data helped me understand my health better?

  • Finland: 58 per cent
  • Denmark: 46 per cent
  • Iceland: 44 per cent
  • Sweden: 43 per cent
  • Norway: 33 per cent

Question: Access to digital health data has improved my health management.

  • Finland: 44 per cent
  • Denmark: 38 per cent
  • Iceland: 36 per cent
  • Sweden: 35 per cent
  • Norway: 29 per cent

Lowest utilisation of health data among Norwegians

Finns are the most active users of their health data in the Nordics to better understand their health. Norwegians fare the worst when asked if access to digital health data has helped them understand and manage their health better.

The survey also finds clear differences in attitudes towards digital health services between countries. This particularly concerns perceptions of how digitalisation affects health inequality, quality, and accessibility.

The study not only provides valuable insights for policymakers but is also an important contribution to the ongoing dialogue on the digitalisation of the Nordic healthcare system.


Eriksen et al. A Nordic survey to monitor citizens' use and experience with eHealthNordic Council of Ministers, TemaNord, 2023.

NINe project

The NINe project (National Implementation Research Network e-health) is part of a Nordic collaboration on indicator development (Nordic eHealth Research Network – NeRN). The Norwegian Centre for e-Health Research and Central Norway Regional Health Authority are represented. This Nordic collaboration extends to research groups worldwide in evaluation.

NeRN aims to develop common Nordic indicators around e-health themes such as functionality and services. Researchers Espen Nordheim, Ove Lintvedt, and Rune Pedersen from the Norwegian Centre for e-Health Research are involved in this work.

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