Electronic health card with more functions

Electronic health card with more functions

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New applications for the electronic health card

The introduction of the electronic health card (eGK) has been repeatedly delayed for years. All insured persons should have been equipped with the new card since the beginning of the year. However, this does not use all the options that were originally intended. However, considerable benefits for the eGK are expected in the coming years.

The eGK was supposed to be introduced at the beginning of 2006, but criticism of the costs, concerns about data security and other planning problems have delayed its introduction until today. Although the new insurance card has been compulsory since the beginning of the year, the old cards are still valid, as no agreement on a binding expiry date has yet been reached between the medical profession and the health insurance companies. In the background, however, the leading associations of service providers and payers of the German health care system in the Society for Telematics Applications of the Health Card mbH (Gematik) are ready to build the necessary infrastructure and possible new useful functions for the eGK.

Health information highway ready next year
The infrastructure is currently being set up as part of the IT billion project. Lines must be laid and card terminals installed. "In the coming year, the health data highway will be up," quotes the news agency "dpa", Gematik managing director Arno Elmer. Then it only has to be filled with life. The Gematik mentions five other applications as measures that are already in preparation, "in addition to the provision of the telematics infrastructure (TI) and the qualified electronic signature (QES)": online checking and updating of the insured master data, emergency data management, secure communication between the doctors or service providers, the introduction of an electronic case file and the drug therapy safety check.

Federal Minister of Health plans e-health law
Overall, "Germany is lagging behind when it comes to e-health," Ulrich Weigeldt, head of the German General Practitioners' Association, told dpa. According to the doctor, other countries are significantly further here. There, the doctors would only open their notebook and then immediately have the patient's disease data available. In fact, the advantages of the newly created infrastructure only become apparent with the introduction of appropriate digital applications. According to the dpa news agency, given the ongoing difficulties with the introduction of the eGK, the Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe (CDU) has now announced that an e-health law that is already planned is to be launched in October. This includes, for example, the online check of the insured person's status and the digital update of the insured person's data from the end of 2015. The electronic signature is to be introduced in 2016.

Save information for emergencies
The so-called emergency data management is another new application of the eGK. Insured persons should have emergency-related information stored on their eGK on a voluntary basis, which can then be read out by doctors or emergency paramedics without the patient's involvement. For example, information on existing medications, allergies, drug intolerance, but also on pregnancies, implants and much more can be transmitted in this way, reports the Gematik. The address of the treating doctor can also be saved, as can the contact details of the relatives to be notified in an emergency. Furthermore, there is also the option, at the patient's request, to "include a reference to the existence of a living will and / or an organ donation declaration."

Improved communication between the treating doctors
As a further benefit extension of the eGK describes the Gematik, the digital, secure communication between doctors and other health care providers. Until now, the information would have to be sent by post, which is why important information is not always available to a doctor who is treating the patient. "With the introduction of secure communication, findings can be sent electronically in a legally binding, secure and compatible way between doctors," reports Gematik. The planned introduction of an electronic case file also serves to improve communication between the facilities and doctors involved in the treatment of a patient.

Avoid drug interaction with the help of the eGK
With regard to drug safety, the electronic health card will in future offer the option of voluntarily entering "all medication data, drug prescription data and therapy proposal data" so that the treating doctor or pharmacist has an overview of the medication taken and unwanted interactions can be better avoided. An automatic check of the various prescribed drugs for possible interaction is already being considered. Overall, numerous new applications for the eGK can be expected in the coming years and the topic of e-health will also become significantly more important in Germany. (fp)

Author and source information

Video: AMS Electronic Medical Records Demo


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