Norway’s healthcare sector: Prioritising digital solutions in 2021

Norway’s healthcare sector

Open Access Government discuss how the Norwegian Minister for Health and Care Services, Bent Høie has navigated his ministries response to the COVID-19 crisis, and his priorities for 2021

The Ministry of Health and Care Services in Norway has the overall responsibility of ensuring that the entire population receives good and equal health and care services, regardless of place of residence or finances, among other things. As Minister of Health and Care Services, Bent Høie is able to work towards constantly bringing new technology and smart solutions into the health sector, and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been more vital than ever before.

Norway has been among the countries in Europe with the strictest regime for entry and testing, and in many areas, these restrictions are not about to loosen any time soon. Minister Bent Høie warns the Norwegian population about the worsening condition in other European countries and stated that Norway aims to “still reach the goal of offering the entire adult population a vaccine during the summer, but it is too early to say for sure yet.”

Ahead of Easter, the Minister has advised Norwegian citizens to approach the holidays with caution, minimising the spread of infection. “The virus variant that dominates now is contagious much more easily and can lead to more serious disease than the variant that dominated a year ago. That is why it is more important than ever to bring the infection down and keep it down,” he states.

As well as tough infection control measures, a dynamic vaccination strategy and a significant sacrifice from its young people who have “put their lives on hold for the good of the country,” Norway’s health and care services have been able to adapt and cooperate successfully.

eHealth Solutions

National eHealth solutions have provided great value in dealing with the pandemic, as was highlighted in March 2021 when Minister Bent Høie gave a speech at eHealth’s digital conference. By exposing gaps and highlighting the importance of digitisation on a local and national scale, the pandemic has driven forward initiatives encouraging the use of digital platforms and artificial intelligence to benefit the healthcare sector.

“The COVID-19 situation has confirmed the need for digital solutions such as providing healthcare professionals with easy and secure access to patient and user information, giving citizens access to simple and secure digital services and making data available for quality improvement, health monitoring, management and research,” said Minister Høie.

Norway has since established solutions such as:, where residents can find quality-assured information about health and illness, have contact with health personnel, administer their own health care and receive digital health and care services.

• Core journals, which give healthcare professionals quick access to important information, thus creating a better basis for making decisions and choices about the right treatment. The introduction of this to the municipalities is now in full swing.

• Sharing documents in core medical records have now started up in Health South-East and Health North to provide a unique opportunity to share information with health personnel who need it – between hospitals, GPs and the municipality.

• New models for collaboration have been established to work towards common goals and priorities in the e-health area. The national management model for e-health has contributed to better coordination and coordination.

“To respond to the long-term challenges, the government, with the state budget for 2021, has given digitalisation a historic boost. We have prioritised NOK 189 million for investments in the national collaboration solutions, such as core journals, and e-prescriptions,” stated Minister Høie.

Looking to the future, 2021 will also see greater investments being made in data sharing in the healthcare sector to develop new knowledge and better services. These investments will fund basic data registers for personnel and enterprises in municipal health and care services, trust services that provide security that sensitive information is only shared by health personnel with service needs, and a national information service for posting laboratory and X-ray responses.

Norway has set itself ambitious goals of making health data more readily available for research and analysis. Bent Høie recently commented that “technological development in artificial intelligence and the processing and handling of big data provides opportunities for analysis and research on health data that we have not had before.”

Learning from the Pandemic

The Minister notes the importance of cooperation and the extent that the pandemic has shown how dependent we are on each other and that we are stronger together. “To succeed, we must build a stronger culture of cooperation. The health and care services of the future will be developed in an interaction between patients, those who work in the services, strong research environments and the business community,” he added.

The pandemic has taught the world that the potential for strengthening digitalisation is great and that there are many untapped opportunities. Today, Norway is taking full advantage of this.


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