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Siemens to implement the electronic case file (eFA) in Germany between two clinic operators

Siemens Healthcare Deutschland : 15 November, 2007  (New Product)
In December 2007, Siemens will start a pilot project on the electronic case file (eFA) and in the process, two reputable clinic chains, including Rhon-Klinikum of , Bad Neustadt/Saale, Germany, will exchange data for the first time.
With this process Siemens has become the first industry partner to have realised the eFA specification of the Fraunhofer ISST including peer-to-peer communication in full.

“The eFA optimises the treatment process by supporting the networking of all health care service providers. In the process we intend to contribute applications which offer added value for other services such as the health card,” explained Volker Wetekam, head of the Global Solutions Division of Siemens Medical Solutions.

“The eFA initiative strengthens the position of the relevant service providers and reduces costs since the individual organizations are able to specialise more in their own areas of expertise if cooperation among themselves is facilitated. With this initiative we could become a trendsetter – not only in Germany but the world over.”

Rhon-Klinikum emphasised that it attaches particular importance to data protection and the consideration of existing systems and standards.

“Rhon-Klinikum was there right from the start, when the eFA came into existence and is one of the pioneers when it comes to deploying advanced information technology in the clinic area in Germany, which is also demonstrated by our teleportal clinic concept,” explained Dietmar Pawlik, CFO, Rhon-Klinikum.

“The fact that we will test the case file between two clinic operators as early as next month shows that we have designed our system as an open system right from the outset. We intend to network with other clinics working with various different systems, in order to provide services. In doing so we will achieve interoperability across sectors and institutions.”

The Fraunhofer ISST has presented the next steps for the eFA: The project is now to be realised across the board, as a joint initiative of the entire in-patient sector, with the implementation of the specifications being centrally coordinated. In this process the specifications will be enhanced continuously and – as has been done in the past – coordinated with other stakeholders such as gematik, VHitG and IHE.

“The electronic case file specified by the Fraunhofer-Institut fur Software- und Systemtechnik on behalf of the consortium is well on the way towards establishing itself as a solution for cross-facility and cross-sector communication in the German health care system. The fact that two clinic operators with various different technical systems will soon be able to exchange digital data demonstrates the potential of a manufacturer-independent specification,” said Jan Neuhaus, deputy head of business communication management of the Fraunhofer ISST.

When communication between physicians in private practices and the hospital is implemented electronically, this is done using portals developed by various manufacturers. In the future, patient treatment from the primary sector to admittance to and treatment in the hospital through to after-care is to be fully processed via the electronic case file. In contrast to the electronic patient file, the eFA only focuses on the relevant case of illness. This means that those involved in the treatment are only granted access to the data associated with the relevant treatment case and not to the lifelong file containing the patient’s entire history. When giving their consent, patients are thus assured in very clear terms that the data is being used for one specified purpose.

The data itself can be viewed by all treating physicians, using a ‘FAT Client’ or using a browser via SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) web services, while the data is generated and stored in the IT systems of the relevant service provider. There is no additional central data management; only references to the encapsulated data are generated. This data may only be viewed following authentication, for example by means of the Health Professional Card.
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