e-Health – health care supported by electronic processes – is one of the ten priorities of the eEurope 2005 Action Plan, an initiative of the European Union to provide Internet access to European citizens and companies. e-Health’s aim is to create user-friendly and interoperable information systems for patients and health-care professionals in Europe.
The basis of e-Health in Slovakia will be the National Health Information System – the system intended to provide services and information regarding health care. It is expected to be available in 2012. A common communication interface for persons and other information systems to access this system will be provided by the National Health Portal. It will offer information on medicinal products, medical equipment health-care providers, and it will also be the site that publishes information and warnings in the event of epidemics or other medically-relevant matters or threats.
The first step of supporting health care through electronic processes is the introduction of the Electronic Health Record, which is slated for the beginning of 2013 and will include important information on an individual’s health and medical treatment.
Among other advantages of ushering in electronic processes are the possibility of scheduling doctor’s appointments and receiving information about planned exams or lab results online. This should help patients suffering from chronic diseases to reduce the number of visits to their doctors, as their health condition can be monitored online. Progress in implementing these user-friendly advantages into Slovakia’s legislation hints at a very moderate progress so far.
The underlying document for the implementation of the e-Health initiative in Slovakia was the so called Action Plan for a European e-Health Area” (hereinafter referred to as the Action Plan) drafted by the European Commission.
A 2008 resolution by the government of the Slovak Republic approved the strategic goals of e-Health – a key instrument of informatisation of public administration in health care.
The strategic goals of e-Health include: setting the legislative, normative and system architecture framework ; creating secure infrastructure; informatisation andsupporting new processes and forms of health care and health-care services.
As one of the priorities on the agenda of the Slovak government, informatisation can occur only following the creation of the legislative, normative and system architecture framework of e-Health, which is one of its basic strategic points.
The Slovak legal framework should incorporate the elements of the EU Action Plan, while following the Feasibility Study for e-Health Projects drafted by the Finance Ministry of the Slovak Republic in March 2009 which recommends that e.g. following laws should be amended: Act on health care; Act on health care providers; Act on scope of health care covered by public health insurance; Act on health insurance; Act on drugs; Act on personal data protection; Act on public health protection including adoption of several implementation regulations.
In connection with the e-Health project, the Ministry of Health adopted in September 2008 the “Regulation on minimum requirements regarding staff and material and technical equipment of health-care facilities”, obliging the providers of outpatient treatment, no later than 31.12.2008, and providers of inpatient care, no later than 31.12.2011, to equip their facilities with information-communication technology with connection to the Internet so that their systems allow broadband transmission and processing of data in electronic form. There is no current information whether these basic e-Health preconditions have been met by those health-care providers.
Based on information from the National Health Information Centre received at the time of writing this article, no bills to amend the abovenoted acts have been submitted to Slovakia’s parliament and no proposed amendments to do so have been passed by the Slovak government – other than the one regulation issued by the Ministry of Health in September 2008.
Among other issues, the protection of sensitive personal data as are details of the patient´s health seems to be a hot discussion point which needs to be properly covered in the bills to be drafted and adopted.
Mgr. Sylvia Szabó, Junior Partner, Ružička Csekes s.r.o.
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12. Sep 2011 at 0:00