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Germany to set up eHealth council to promote healthcare technology

Plans new eHealth legislation in the Autumn

GermanyThe German government plans to set up a new eHealth council in order to help the country make more effective use of healthcare technology.

The health service uses around 200 separate IT systems and their 'interoperability' - how well they connect to each other - has been highlighted as an barrier to further progress.

The eHealth Council will form part of the 'gematik', the government department responsible for Germany's electronic health card (eGK) and its infrastructure.

Federal Health Minister Herman Gröhe said: "Our common goal is to continue to improve healthcare, with the help of modern information and communication technologies - modern technologies can benefit patients enormously.”

Gröhe picked out telemonitoring, which allows the elderly to remain at home longer, while doctors monitor their health on an ongoing, remote basis, as an example of where better use of technology could help.

But he said that eHealth activities like this are dependent on separate communications systems being able to share information. On a European level eHealth progress was earlier this year found to still be patchy and a survey of doctors across 31 countries saw them pick out interoperability as one of the three biggest barriers to making greater use of eHealth services.

The decision by the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) to set up the eHealth council follows an interoperability study launched as part of Germany's mid-2010 eHealth Initiative. The findings of the study will form the basis of a new eHealth law, which is expected to be in place by October.

The study found that IT and communications systems in Germany have traditionally been used to support individual institutions and that this is restricting progress across the healthcare sector as a whole.

“The market development for medical software solutions has led to a variety of system within doctor's offices, hospitals and pharmacies, as well as parallel developments and electronic solutions, so that their cooperation potential is as a whole today not nearly exhausted,” it found.

The proposed eHealth council will operate as an independent scientific committee and be tasked with promoting the exchange of digital information in the German healthcare sector.

Article by
Tara Craig

31st July 2014

From: Healthcare

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