Health minister wants to speed up digital transfer of patient files

Health minister Bruno Bruins is planning to force health care institutions to exchange information about their patients digitally in an effort to speed up the transfer of information and reduce medical errors.

Patients will also be able to see their own records and ‘manage’ them, Bruins said in a briefing to MPs.

‘If the electronic exchange of healthcare information is properly organised, avoidable mistakes can be prevented and care givers will have more time for patients,’ he said. said. ‘It is also in the interests of patient safety that digital becomes the new standard.’

Hospitals, family practitioners and healthcare professionals all have their own systems and these have to be adapted to work together, Bruins said. This is currently being done on a voluntary basis but it taking too long, hence the need for legislation.

He has set aside €400m to kickstart the process and plans to publish detailed plans to tackle the problem by April next year.


The privacy of medical records has been a major theme in recent years. The government is currently expected to withdraw a bill that would have allowed health insurers to share patients’ details without their prior consent in an attempt to stamp out fraud.

The bill faced defeat in the Senate because of concerns that the move would breach patient confidentiality.

In 2011 the upper house of parliament pulled the plug on a €300m project to introduce such a system due to privacy concerns.

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