The mission of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Cyprus is to continuously promote a health system that provides citizens with high quality health care throughout their life. One of the main goals set in its strategic plan is the promotion of eHealth. With the development and use of electronic health systems it is aimed to provide health professionals as well as patients with higher quality of health provision. Promotion and enhancement of eHealth for the benefit of the health professionals and patients through the development of electronic tools provides improved efficiency and prompt patient support. Telemedicine and electronic patient data archiving systems in all hospitals, as well as the electronic communication between services is also a goal set by the Ministry of Health. Also collaboration with other stakeholders in the field to promote and share innovation is considered the best possible way to enhance expertise and knowledge.
In the context of the above, it should be noted that the current Health System of the Republic of Cyprus was established during the island’s colonial period and has evolved to its present state through the decades. Today’s technological advancements, along with an aging population and high healthcare service costs dictate a fundamental reform in the existing system. The Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) was set up under Law N.89(I)/2001 as a public legal entity. It is governed by a Board of Directors with trilateral representation (Government, Employers’ and Employees’ Unions) and its mission is the implementation of a National Health System (NHS) in Cyprus. The HIO’s main responsibilities are to: (i) administer the fund established by the Law N.89(I)/2001 for financing of the National Health System; (ii) make the required arrangements to obtain affordable healthcare to all beneficiaries by contracting with healthcare providers satisfying all relevant conditions and specifications; (iii) coordinate and ensure the provision of high quality healthcare services by the contracted healthcare providers; (iv) collect, analyse and report data relating to the provision of healthcare services. The following eight thematic groups work for the design and preparation of the strategic documents of the New Health System: 1. Family Doctor; 2. Specialist Doctor; 3. Clinical Laboratories; 4. Pharmaceutical Services; 5. Accident and Emergency Departments; 6. Allied Health Professions; 7. Inpatient care; 8. System Financing and Global Budgeting. At present, actions are taken by the Ministry of Health and the HIO towards the implementation of the NHS. In order to accelerate this pace, The President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, announced that the road map and the implementation of the NHS have been set very high in His priorities for the offering of a better healthcare service for the Cypriot citizen.
eHealth is set high on the priority initiatives of the Ministry of Health and HIO for achieving high-quality and sustainable health care and long-term care services. In this context it is foreseen that the envisioned CEF eHealth services will greatly help the Republic of Cyprus in achieving its health care priority initiatives and playing a catalytically role in Cyprus towards the advancement of offering state of the art services for the patient.
Cyprus, aligned with the eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020 interoperability requirements (both nationally and among the EU member countries), is strongly trying to follow these towards the establishment of a national interoperable hub for the exchange of secured medical data. In this context, the proposed CEF eHealth services will facilitate secured data exchange services, providing an excellent interoperability secured and trustworthy infrastructure.
It is envisioned that the CEF eHealth secured data exchange services and policies will be integrated to the EHR system available at the Nicosia General Hospital and the Famagusta General Hospital. The strict adherence to the IHE interoperability protocols will be the challenge to manage to achieve the connectivity and seamless integration of the CEF eHealth services with the legacy EHR systems in place. Certainly, an update of the EHR legacy systems to support the IHE interoperability protocols will most likely be required. Moreover, it is foreseen that within the next 2 years, EHR systems will be made available in the other major public district hospitals, i.e. Larnaca, Limassol and Pafos, thus enabling a noatinal coverage of the public sector.
In parallel, the HIO is progressing towards finalizing the eHealth solution in support of the NHS that will facilitate further the national coverage of the CEF eHealth services.
Finally, it should be mentioned that both the Ministry of Health and the HIO are working towards establishing a continuous SLA (Service Level Agreement) model for the maintenance and operational support of the eHealth solutions to be adopted.