Semantic interoperability needs political commitment

With the epSOS project, the European Commission has initiated a successful first step towards cross-border interoperability of electronic medical data in Europe. Five European Member States have gone live already, but problems remain that need to be addressed politically rather than technically.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - (HealthTech Wire /News) - The epSOS project provides a digital infrastructure that makes it possible to access electronic patient data stored in another country in case a patient falls ill while abroad. The basic concept is that medical institutions use a patient identifier to contact the “National Contact Point”. This NCP sends a request to the NCP in the patient’s home country, which then retrieves the requested document from where it is stored.

Story Highlights
  • epSOS project provides a digital infrastructure to access electronic patient data that is stored in another country
  • Medical institutions use a patient identifier and contact the NCP in the home country of the patient to retrieve the requested document from where it is stored
  • “EpSOS cannot invent a drug terminology for Europe. We need some kind of government model for this.”

Thirteen3 million people can use the system

Fredrik Linden, project coordinator of epSOS, announced that the current solution will now be migrated towards an open source solution. Afterwards, the hope is to scale it up considerably. “At the moment, thirteen million people can use the system”, said Linden.

While many of the issues with technical interoperability have been solved, a number of open questions remain. Many of them are related to semantic interoperability: Requests that go from one country to another are being translated automatically, but this doesn’t always work.

Problem with translating electronic prescriptions


Anni Buhr from the Danish National Board of eHealth pointed to the fact that translating electronic prescriptions remained difficult. Brand names of medications vary from Member State to Member State, and far from all pharmaceuticals are available everywhere in the EU. Translating dosages is also difficult, since doctors in different countries tend to document them differently.

“This means that in order to reach semantic interoperability in the field of medication, we need a common EU terminology for drugs”, said Buhr. She was very clear about the fact that this is not a technical problem: “EpSOS cannot invent a drug terminology for Europe. We need some kind of government model for this.”

###

Source: HealthTech Wire

Published in GoDirect / Newspartner

 | 

 | 

Reader reception

- Read 6291 times

- Of which 286 times during the first three days online

Readers' forum:

Share your views.