Pilot Project for the national electronic health card in Bulgaria -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine


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Pilot Project for the national electronic health card in Bulgaria

Sofia/Slivnitza, Bulgaria, October 3, 2007 – The Bulgarian Minister of Health, Professor Radoslav Gajdarski today officially launched the pilot system for the Bulgarian electronic health card in the town of Slivnitza, some 30 kilometers outside Sofia. At this occasion, the first electronic prescription of the new EU member state was issued and filled.

„The eCard system significantly reduces our administrative work. The
e-prescription is issued very quickly, is always legible and faultless, and thus we have more time to take care of our patients”, says Dr. Eleonora Popova, the first GP who is using the new system. The electronic prescription is generated by the system after the disease and the medication is entered by the attending physician. For maximum security and reliability, the physician is signing the prescription electronically using a health professional card and a PIN.

The electronic prescription is saved on a special secure server at the Bulgarian National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF). It can later be retrieved at the pharmacy using information that is stored on the patient’s electronic card. All data are transmitted through a special security device – the so called ICW Box – that was jointly developed by ICW, the eHealth specialist, and Cisco, the world's leading provider of routing and network security solutions. The ICW Box processes and encrypts the information that is then sent using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), a specially secured Internet connection. ICW’s Software Development Kit (SDK) enables the quick and easy integration between the new system and software applications that are already in use at GPs – such as „Hypocrat” of Kontrax – or pharmacies – „Apteka Exper 2” of Libra AG and Pharma Star” of AS Systems, for instance.

At the pharmacy, the pharmacist’s and patient’s cards are inserted into a card reader. After this simple yet secure authentication procedure, the prescription is automatically opened. When the prescribed drug is handed over to the patient, the pharmacist simply enters a PIN code to certify that the medication has been dispensed. Pharmacist Diana Dimitrova, owner of the pharmacy that served the first patient with an e-prescription, explains: „With the new eCard, we can accelerate our service. Therefore I firmly believe that our customers will appreciate the card, too. Currently, we need 45 minutes per day to do our reports to the NHIF. With the new e-prescriptions, this information is generated automatically at the moment the medication is dispensed.”

The remaining six GP practices and three pharmacies in Slivnitza will be connected to the new system soon. In the next three months, all 1,000 patients who are included in the project will use their eCard at their GPs and in the pharmacy. During this time the system will be evaluated in order to show how the benefits of the electronic card can be implemented for all Bulgarian citizens.