The North Estonia Medical Center (PERH) is the first medical institution in Estonia to implement the country-wide digital registration system launched on Tuesday.
Starting from Tuesday, appointments to specialist practitioners at PERH can be made by visiting the patient portal at www.digilugu.ee. Other hospitals in the network are to join the country-wide digital registration system within six months.
Minister of Health and Labor Riina Sikkut said that digital registration will facilitate booking an appointment and increase transparency. From now on, the patient will have one platform that enables booking an appointment in any medical institution, she added.
«In addition, implementing digital registration allows for digital referrals issued by doctors to be linked with the relevant appointments. That means that just one appointment per referral is allowed and a new one can only be made with the same referral when the previous appointment has been cancelled,» Sikkut said. «This eliminates the option of booking several appointments with various doctors based on one referral alone.»
Implementing digital booking also provides an opportunity to further analyze patient waiting times.
«Digital registration does not automatically solve the problem of waiting times for patients, but it increases transparency. It provides the opportunity to measure the time from the moment when the referral was issued until the time of the appointment with the doctor. Thus, we will learn which purposes should be earmarked for more resources,» Sikkut said.
For now, only appointments at PERH are available at the national patient portal.
«We are now prepared to launch the option of booking, changing and cancelling appointments on the patient portal digilugu.ee,» CIO at PERH Imbi Kivi-Sild said. «Appointments can still be booked via other channels, too – by telephone, using the hospital's own digital booking system, as well as at the registration desk on the spot.»
The country-wide digital booking system will meet its objective when as many medical institutions as possible have implemented the solution. Director of Health and Welfare Information Systems Center (TEHIK) Katrin Reinhold said that it depends on other hospitals' capacity for development as well as the complexity of their information systems when the institutions are able to join the country-wide system. «TEHIK has forwarded the information required for development to medical institutions and system developers,» Reinhold said.
Chairman of the management board at the Estonian Health Insurance Fund Rain Laane said that medical institutions have shown interest in joining the digital booking system.
«TEHIK has created the technical capacity required, and hospitals have six months to carry out the necessary developments in their information systems to join the digital booking system. We have included a corresponding clause in the contracts for financing medical treatment as well,» Laane said.
«For the Association of Hospitals, introducing and developing the digital registration system is one of the most important priorities of the year,» head of the Estonian Hospital Association Urmas Sule said. «We have agreed all hospitals will be prepared to join in July at the latest, and we'll ensure the project will be implemented in a patient-centered manner.»
Pursuant to the agreement, other hospitals in the network are to join the digital booking system within six months. The detailed schedule is to be finalized by the end of January. All private medical institutions are able to join as well.
The country-wide digital registration system is available at www.digilugu.ee, where the user is displayed the options for booking, changing and cancelling appointments with specialist practitioners at all medical institutions that have joined the system.