European commissioners have called for greater partnerships between both the public and the private sector and between different countries to advance the cause of computerising healthcare across Europe.

The third European ministerial conference on e-health, held this week in Tromso, Norway, focused on best practice and examples of how e-health can improve patient care, and how much member states can learn from one another.

Markos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection said: "We need a partnership between health ministers, technology providers, patient groups and health NGOs to release the full potential of e-health in Europe."

Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, said that health IT had already saved money in Denmark and there was greater potential for expansion: "Electronic patient referrals in Denmark are saving one million euros a year, and could rise to 3.5 million euros a year if all referrals were sent electronically."

The English NHS was well-represented at the event, with NHS Connecting for Health attending and giving ‘live’ demonstrations of some products such as Choose and Book and the Map of Medicine.

Dr Mark Davies, clinical lead for Choose and Book, who attended the conference said: "Ministers were fascinated to bring up on the screen the appointments which I could have booked for patients in various hospitals in England."

The University of Nottingham also featured at the show, with their EU-funded project into whether health monitoring data can be extracted from large groups of electronic health records.

E-Health 2005 project leader Espen Dennis Kristoffersen commented: "We are delighted the UK is here with us. It is demonstrating exciting projects and our delegates are pleased to see the considerable progress that the UK is making in its National Programme for IT."