Act on secure digital communication and applications in the health care system (E-Health Act)

First reading of the E-Health Bill at the Bundestag

First reading of the E-Health Bill at the Bundestag

On 3 July 2015, the Bundestag conducted a first reading to deliberate the draft of an "Act on secure digital communication and applications in the health care system (E-Health Act)".

Digital networking can save lives and it empowers patients. Thanks to the E-Health Act, we are creating the essential basis for doing so. Together with the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), it was possible to develop a system that provides the best possible protection for highly sensitive patient data. Now the ball passes to the self-administration bodies and industry. I expect determined commitment from all of the parties involved, so that patients can benefit quickly from the application of telematics. Delays caused by quibbling from special interest politics may no longer be allowed.

Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe

Digital networking can save lives

When speed is essential after an accident, the emergency physician should, in future, be able to access important emergency data, such as information on allergies, implants or pre-existing conditions, directly from the electronic health card. Thanks to the patient's emergency data, the physician is immediately informed. From 2018 onwards, patients can choose to have the relevant emergency data stored on their health card. Physicians are to be remunerated when they produce these data sets.

Furthermore, the Act creates the basis for storing a medication plan with the aid of the electronic health card. This medication plan, which will contain all of the information on the medicinal products used by the patient, will provide greater safety in medication therapy. Insured persons who take at least three prescribed medicinal products at the same time are to be entitled to have such a medication plan from October 2016. The plan is for the medication plan to be accessible through the electronic health card in the medium term. This will ultimately serve to avoid medicinal product interactions. Such a move would be particularly of benefit to patients who are being treated simultaneously by several physicians, such as elderly patients with multimorbidity.

So as to achieve this goal as soon as possible, the company responsible for telematics applications of the health card, which is supported by the self-administration, will be receiving clear deadlines and specifications for the completion of its work. Budgetary cuts will have to be borne by the above-mentioned partners if the deadlines are not met.

Digital networking empowers patients

Digitalisation represents a great opportunity for the self-determined, active patient. Modern master data management is to be introduced on a national scale after a nationwide trial is conducted in test regions. With this move, the prerequisites are to be created for medical applications, such as the electronic patient file, with which patients can be kept informed of their diagnosis and therapy on an individual basis, and therefore be better involved in decision-making processes. As soon as the application is operational, doctors and dentists who use it will receive a supplemental fee. From 1 July 2018, the plan is to impose across-the-board cuts in the fees of doctors and dentists who do not participate in the online check of the master data of insured persons. Furthermore, the procedures for obtaining access to the patient's compartment will be rendered easier so that the insured person will be able to store important documents, such as an electronic vaccination card, in it. That, too, strengthens patients.

Data protection is awarded top priority

The design of the telematics infrastructure fulfils the highest of safety standards: There are clear rights of access, the accessing of data by physicians is recorded and health insurance funds are obliged to provide information. Medical data is encrypted. At all times, patients have control over their data and decide whether and which medical data may be stored and who is entitled to read them. In addition, patients are entitled to delete data at any time. At present, the security standards are already higher than those that apply to EC debit cards and are constantly being adapted to new developments. In future, the telematics infrastructure is also to be made available, with the same high security standards, for additional applications such as electronic discharge letters. Moreover, additional care providers, such as the members of the nursing professions are to be allowed to use the infrastructure. All of the above measures are aimed at converting it into the central communications infrastructure for the healthcare system.