Estonian E-health System and the Elderly

By: Marianne Paimre  

Estonians are known for their innovative e-solutions and digital access to all public services. E-health is a prime example of such state-of-the-art programmes set out to improve public health by offering new preventive measures and increasing the awareness of patients. The people who need health-related information the most are the elderly. But do they have access to the internet and can they find relevant information and cope with e-health solutions? Acquiring a computer or subscribing to internet service could present a major financial challenge for them. My research focuses on the ability of senior citizens in Estonia to benefit from the highly acclaimed national e-health system. A pilot study, which is the initial step to more comprehensive research, based on a focus group interview and in-depth interviews with seniors revealed they often lack the skills and experience necessary to search for online health information as well as cope with e-health solutions. Thus, the wholesome public image of Estonia’s e-success does not always correspond to reality. This paper puts the much-appreciated IT solution into a broader perspective and, instead of the lavishly praised e-health applications, focuses on outlining the serious drawbacks of the digital divide and exclusion of seniors from the digital services market.

E-health, Elderly, Digital divide, Digital access, Human rights, Estonia
Public Policy and Public Perspectives on Aging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Marianne Paimre

PhD Student/Lecturer, School of Information Technology, Tallinn University, Estonia

I received my PhD in journalism from the University of Jyväskylä (in Finland) in 2013. My doctoral dissertation examined representations of illicit drug issues in the Estonian print press. Currently I am writing my second doctoral dissertation on Estonians' online health information behavior in the School of Digital Technology at Tallinn University (Estonia). I have worked as the Head of the Information and Bibliography Department of the Library of Tallinn University. I was one of the founders and the Head of the Drug Information Centre of the Estonian Foundation for Prevention of Drug Addiction in 1999. Since 2014 I have been a lecturer in the School of Law at the University of Tartu. I am also lecturing in the School of Digital Technology at Tallinn University. My research and teaching activities have focused on representations of crime and health issues in the media, digital information and communication and online health information behavior. I have long-standing experience in writing scientfic articles. Several of my articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals and books. In the pas few years I have also produces several articles on shifts in media coverage against the background of changing drug policy. I have also been writing opinion pieces for Estonian leading newspapers, and for this reason, I am becoming an opinion leader on drug related issues in Estonia. See also: