Close of SUSTAINS, the Electronic Health Records project


The SUSTAINS project, in which EPF was one of the partners, ended last December. Since then, the various partners have pulled together the main findings and lessons learned. The project has promoted citizens with online access to their Electronic Healthcare Records (EHR), fulfilling one of the key actions of the European Digital Agenda.

SUSTAINS demonstrated that resolving the question of patients’ access to their EHR is an important prerequisite for patient-centred health systems. It enables f patients and citizens in general to be actively involved in the management of their health-related information and to contribute to decision making in partnership with healthcare professionals.

Access to EHR = patient empowerment?

Unfortunately there is no statistically significant evidence of an empowering process resulting from patient accessing their EHR. However, the qualitative part of the assessment showed quite clearly that SUSTAINS services have directly contributed in most cases to increased empowerment in terms of understanding, control, and participation in the management of patients’ conditions.

More precisely, more and easier

Access to health information increases knowledge of one’s condition. It further encourages patients to ask more informed questions during face-to-face visits, and, in some countries, become more active in the management of their conditions.

The most significant impact of patient access to their EHR relates to the relationship and communication with healthcare professionals. It carries a huge potential for equalising the relationship and making it more transparent as “hierarchies” and knowledge barriers are being reduced.

Looking at acceptance and satisfaction, the evaluation shows that users are usually satisfied with the services’ usefulness and security, and that their level of satisfaction depends on a particular situation.  Furthermore, a large majority of users would recommend the services to others. There is therefore a strong willingness to further continue SUSTAINS among healthcare professionals, which is very positive.

We will share the outcomes from the SUSTAINS project with our internal Policy Advisory Group to see how we can take this forward in terms of policy work. We also hope that other regions will take stock of the evidence collected in order to put patients’ access to their EHR on their agenda too” concluded EPF Senior Programme Officer Walter Atzori.

Contact: Walter Atzori, EPF Senior Programme Officer,