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Bulgaria pilots new Health eCard programme

InterComponentWare : 10 October, 2007  (New Product)
Bulgaria has issued and dispensed its first electronic prescription using a new Bulgarian electronic health card (eCard).
The prescription was processed at an event held in presence of the Bulgarian Minister of Health, Professor Radoslav Gajdarski, and the Minister of Public Administration and Administrative Reform, Dr Nikolay Vassilev. The online transaction officially launched the pilot system for Bulgaria’s new electronic health card (eCard).

The eCard initiative includes seven physicians, four pharmacies and 1,000 patients who are testing the eCard’s 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 records.

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.”

The system creates electronic prescriptions after the by the attending physician has entered his or her diagnosis as well as the recommended medication requirements. 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 authentication, 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 PIN code.

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 the eHealth specialist ICW and Cisco, the world's leading provider of routing and network security solutions. The ICW Box encrypts the information that is then transmitted via a Virtual Private Network (VPN). With ICW providing a special Software Development Kit (SDK), software applications that are already in use in GP’s office and at pharmacies can easily be 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,” said Peter Reuschel, CEO of InterComponentWare (ICW), main contractor of the pilot project.

During the next three months, all 1,000 patients who are included in the project will use the new eCard at their GPs and in the pharmacies.
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