Health services in a click for two million citizens of Serbia

Referrals, prescriptions and sick leave documents, scheduling examinations, laboratory analyzes and radiological diagnostics, as well as all other health services will be fully available to the citizens of Serbia in the next four years, thanks to the Health System Digitalization Program of the Republic of Serbia for 2022-2026, adopted at yesterday's Government session upon a proposal of the Ministry of Health.

The program stipulates comprehensive digitalization of procedures and networking state, military and private healthcare institutions in one system, through further development of the Integrated Health Information System (ISIS). Each patient will have a unique electronic health card, with all personal health data, which can be accessed by the doctors they visit. This will speed up the path a patient takes through the health system, improve the treatment results, reduce waiting lists, unnecessary repetition of analyzes, returning visits to general practitioners for referrals, etc.

The goal is to ensure better, more efficient and more accessible health services by digitalizing the healthcare system, and for at least two million citizens to access health services through the eHealth portal or mobile application developed by the Ministry of Health. For this purpose, as many as 100,000 health workers will be trained to provide electronic services.

One of the pillars of the program will be the establishment of reliable IT infrastructure that will ensure the security of patient data, as well as the standardization of large amounts of collected data so that they can be used for research and development in universities and among businesses. Informing citizens about the benefits of electronic services will be key to the widespread use of new technologies and generate great savings.

- The goal of the program is, among other things, to enable specialists to issue referrals for further treatment, which would reduce the number of unnecessary returns to general practitioners by almost 10 million a year, or seven a day per doctor. Also, with greater use of telemedicine, each doctor would reduce the number of examinations in offices by 1,100 during the year, which would significantly relieve the system, reduce congestion and make protection more accessible - said Jelena Bojović, Policy Director in NALED, that helped with developing the program.

Among more than 20 electronic services that will be developed by the Ministry of Health and other institutions, are eReferral, eSickLeave, as well as electronic monitoring of prescriptions and drug consumption, immunization, past diseases, reports and discharge lists, exchange of information between institutions on births and deaths, databases of laboratory analyzes, radiological recordings and genetic information. Processing and analyzing a large amount of information with the support of artificial intelligence will contribute to successful diagnosis and treatment.

More than 60 experts participated in the development of the program, within the Working Group of the Coordination Body for Digitalization of the Health System of the Republic of Serbia, led by the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Health, and including Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Finance, ITE Office, NPPS, Republic Health Insurance Fund RHIF, Institute of Public Health "Dr Milan Jovanovic Batut", ALIMS, numerous chambers of employees and institutions in the health system, patient associations, NALED and other business associations. The development of the Program and the accompanying Action Plan was supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the USAID-funded CHISU project.

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