The Liechtenstein government plans another key milestone in its digital agenda: an eHealth dossier, which records medical and genetic information and aims to speed up health care services.
Liechtenstein wants to introduce a digital health dossier in 2021. The government has brought a bill into the parliament to be approved as part of Liechtenstein’s eHealth Strategy. The goal is to increase efficiency, cut costs, and improve Liechtenstein’s health care system’s quality and processing speed.
How does it work?
Health care processes are complex. Several parties are involved: Doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and even banks. They need data and information to ensure fast and effective treatment, insurance claims processing, and proper documentation. Today, patients would have to email the required documents or send them via mail. If, however, all the data was stored in one single digital file, patients could easily share that one file with whoever needs access to it.
The data in the eHealth dossier will be divided into health data and genetic data. Health data are, for example, medication, a history of vaccines, or existing medical documentation from doctors or hospitals. Genetical information, on the other hand, are genetic data based on reports from laboratories, doctors, pharmacies, and hospitals.
Data protection is one major concern many have against such eHealth files. The government bill reads, “the patient can request that an insurance dossier may not include any health data or genetical information.” In practice, that means a patient can give his insurance company or his doctor access to certain files of the dossier while greying out others. It should also be possible to delete data from the file.
“A high level of data protection is necessary,” reads the bill. That means a health service provider should only be able to access the eHealth file of the patient if it is necessary for treatment, and there will be documentation of who access the file and when. Patients can also grant foreign doctors or service providers access.
Data protection matters but shouldn’t block innovation
Processing health data digitally will benefit all parties that are part of the process. Health care will be faster, cheaper, and better, as the database will get improved. Ensuring the patients’ data remains protected surely should be a key priority, but it should also not become a major roadblock to the development of such a system.
One way to ensure data protection could be a blockchain-based system. As the patients and only the patients would have the keys to their data, it would become their own responsibility to protect their privacy. With a centralized system, that responsibility remains with the government or whoever eventually runs the network.