eHealth in the Czech Republic
The national eHealth strategy foresees the creation of a National eHealth Centre as an essential building block; the Centre’s mission would be to monitor and coordinate the implementation of the national eHealth strategy across the whole country.
A few national or local eHealth initiatives exist. They include:
- An Electronic Prescription system, which has been deployed nationally, and has now been in operation since
- A few telehealth services, which have been deployed locally such as the Telehealth for heart failure
patients service of the University Hospital of Olomouc.
The creation of the Centre is key to the expansion of eHealth initiatives in the Czech Republic.
Technical assistance to the creation of the National eHealth Centre (NeHC) of the Czech Republic
To create the Centre, the Ministry of Health submitted an application for technical assistance to the European Commission and its Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS). As a result of the submission, the Agency for Economic Cooperation and Development (AED) of Austria was contracted for a two-year period (March 2018-March 2020), in partnership with the Austrian Ministry of Work, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Rights. EHTEL supports this process.
The first key report to be delivered was an in-depth analysis on how eHealth Competence Centres have been created in nine European Member States or Regions.
The analysis of the competence centres covered institutions such as Elga (Austria), MedCom (Denmark), NHS Digital (England), THL (Finland), gematik (Germany), Lombardia Informatica (Italy), Agence eSanté (Luxembourg), NICTIZ (Netherlands), and NHIS (Slovakia). Most of these nine have had a close working relationship with EHTEL over the years.
"There is considerable diversity among competence centres, influenced by their healthcare systems and other unique national factors" reported Rachelle Kaye, EHTEL Director and main author of the analysis report."At the same time, there are clear commonalities, as well as lessons to be learned, from the experience of each centre. [An] overview of all of them can provide valuable guidance for the structure and operating principles of the planned Czech Republic eHealth Centre."
On the basis of this analytical report, the staff of the Czech Ministry of Health, together with the invited experts, sketched out an Implementation Roadmap for the National eHealth Centre (NeHC). They included in the roadmap a National eHealth Board (NeHB) which was to aim at facilitating the stakeholder engagement that is indispensable to the whole process.
A preliminary stakeholder meeting was organised in December 2018, and the NeHC was officially created in January 2019.
Communication priorities in 2019
Throughout 2019, AED and EHTEL have assisted the NeHC in planning their future activities. They drafted the terms of reference of the future NeHB, and initiated the development of a national communication and engagement strategy. International experience in communication was sought.
“Making digital health understood by all and explaining them how digital health can contribute to the necessary transformation of the healthcare system and improve population’s health is a prerequisite for successful adoption of eHealth” underlined Adria Garcia Font, Communication Officer of TicSalut Social in Catalunya (Spain).
With the support of Austrian colleagues, assistance has also been provided for the development of a National Health Portal.
Next steps, in 2020
A Delphi survey of local key stakeholders will be launched in 2020 to serve as baseline for a local communication agency developing the communication and engagement strategy.
An informal stakeholder consultation mechanism and a national eHealth conference are planned for early 2020 and this will serve as foundation for the future NeHB.
A technical assistance contract extension is under consideration for 2021 and 2022.