Electronic health card pilot launched in Bulgaria
22 October 2007
Sofia/Slivnitza, Bulgaria. A pilot project to test the Bulgarian electronic
health card (ecard) was launched earlier this month with the issuing of the
first electronic prescription. The event was presided over by the Bulgarian
Minister of Health, Professor Radoslav Gajdarski, and the Minister of Public
Administration and Administrative Reform, Dr Nikolay Vassilev.
The pilot involves seven physicians, four pharmacies and 1,000 patients.
It will test the secure identification and authentication procedures, as
well as the issuing and dispensing of electronic prescriptions. The ecard
system introduces a secure communications infrastructure that can later be
upgraded to access and exchange medical information using personal health
Dr Eleonora Popova, the first general practitioner to use the new
system said: “The new ecard system significantly reduces our administrative
work. The electronic prescriptions are issued very quickly, are always
legible and faultless, and thus we have more time to care for our patients.”
Electronic prescriptions are generated by the system after the diagnosis and
the medication are entered by the attending physician. For maximum security
and reliability, the physician has to sign the prescription electronically
using a health professional card and a PIN.
At the pharmacy, both the
pharmacist’s and patient’s cards are inserted into a card reader. After this
simple yet secure authentication procedure, the e-prescription is
automatically opened. When the prescribed drug is given to the patient, the
pharmacist certifies the dispensation of the medication by simply entering a
Diana Dimitrova, owner of the pharmacy that served the first
patient with an e-prescription explains: ”With the new ecard, we can speed
up our service. Currently, we need up to three hours per day to do our
reports to the National Health Insurance Fund. With e-prescriptions, this
information is generated automatically when the medication is dispensed.”
All data is transmitted through a special security device, the ICW Box ,
developed jointly by InterComponentWare (ICW) and Cisco. The ICW Box
encrypts the information that is then transmitted via a virtual private
network (VPN). A special software development kit enables software
applications that are already in use in GP’s office and at pharmacies to be
easily connected to the new ecard system.
“With today’s start of the pilot
for the national electronic health card, Bulgaria leaps to the fore amongst
nations adopting ehealth solutions,” says Peter Reuschel, CEO of
InterComponentWare (ICW), main contractor of the pilot project.
The system will be evaluated over the next three months. All 1,000
patients who are included in the project will use their ecard at their GPs
and in the pharmacies.
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