The Adaptation of Digital Health Solutions During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Hungary: A Scoping Review

Document Type : Review Article

Authors

Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Semmelweis University, Faculty of Medicine, Budapest, Hungary

Abstract

Background 
Before the pandemic, digital health was merely a potential alternative to established systems of healthcare provision in Hungary. The technology was available but there was no governmental strategy regarding digital health use and development. The legal framework for digital solutions in healthcare was fragmented. COVID-19 created conditions in which digital solutions became the most feasible form of healthcare provision. We present the legislative and policy-making activities of the Hungarian government during the pandemic aimed at enhancing the organised and systematic use of these technologies.

Methods 
The core method used in our research is a review of legislation using the principles and methods of a systematic literature review. We searched the National Legislation Database for digital health related legislation for the period January 31, 2020 – June 1, 2022. To provide the context for the analysis, other relevant documents were identified through desk research.

Results 
Although established in 2017, the electronic health records (EHRs) were only widely used after the onset of the pandemic. Hungary used temporary state of emergency regulations to facilitate an increase in the number of teleconsultations. Our search identified 7 pieces of legislation that enabled healthcare providers to put digital solutions to instant use. They defined the conditions healthcare providers must meet for teleconsultations, set what interventions may be done, what can be reimbursed and dealt with security issues. The National Health Informatics Strategy of July 2021 is complex but mainly deals with technical issues. The three basic principles of the strategy are people centeredness, digital transformation and integrated care.

Conclusion 
Hungarian digital health solutions and policies fare well in international comparison. This is due to the intensive legislative activity of the pandemic period. The National Health Informatics Strategy ensures that the digital health solutions implemented during the pandemic outlive COVID-19.

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Articles in Press, Corrected Proof
Available Online from 10 June 2024
  • Receive Date: 19 January 2023
  • Revise Date: 26 March 2024
  • Accept Date: 08 June 2024
  • First Publish Date: 10 June 2024