The Slovenia Times

Slow Progress



In general, Slovenia's hospitals have good information support. However, there is a problem: these systems are neither standardised nor interconnected or compatible with each other. That means that Slovenian healthcare's current level of computerisation does not actually aid doctors and their patients but instead is often as a time-wasting burden.

Some time ago, the government announced a healthcare computerisation project worth EUR 130 million. eZdravje (eHealth) was supposed to introduce modern and user-friendly IT to the healthcare system. It did not bring the desired effect. Criticised heavily in both medical and technological circles, the health minister Dorjan Marušič recently put a stop to it and started a major overhaul of the project.


Criticism of the original eZdravje project had been swirling for some time. A multidisciplinary group of five experts from various IT fields was the first to publicly express concerns that the direction of the scheme was misguided. In a piece published in Medicina danes, the group argued the project neglected the true needs of patients and doctors, focusing instead on the implementation and construction of a frame to control financial flows.

The fact is that Slovenia already has systems which provide doctors with information about their patient's health insurance and the like - zzzsNET, for instance, which is the computer system of the Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia. Most point out that there is therefore no need to assign money to such systems again. Instead, the state could use funds for content development or the so-called knowledge base which would support qualitative healing and from which the doctor and the patient would benefit.

An open system

Those working within hospitals have also been describing the changes they feel are necessary. Vasja Rebec, the deputy director for administrative and business line of Bolnišnica Golnik KOPA hospital, says every hospital or medical centre should have an open information system that would enable the inclusion of all other development subsystems.

Golnik Hospital is an example of one of the most qualitative IT supported hospitals in Slovenia and was the first facility in the country to have an electronic system of patient appointments. Many hospitals still do not have such a facility. What Slovenian healthcare informatics lack most are rivals and this competitive edge should be established as soon as possible, says Rebec. Every alteration or upgrade of the information systems means extra costs for healthcare centres where the largest problem is not money but the long-lasting process that accompanies these changes.

Renewed focus

The current health minister is clearly focusing on e-health to a greater extent than his predecessors. Dorjan Marušič took part in the creation of the eZdravje concept while the former minister Borut Miklavčič did not take interest in computerisation and eZdravje but assigned these projects to his colleagues. Last summer Marušič expressed concern about the shortage of progress on eZdravje in the last three years. He added that the project is in a critical phase and expressed fears it will not reach users by the end of his mandate.

"I wish to end my mandate with at least one paperless hospital," said the minister back then. Whether this is merely a pipedream remains to be seen.

eZdravje (e-health)

The eZdravje project would see Slovenians get to get a national waiting list, e-doctor appointment system and access to their medical records. Until now the project has more or less been a collection of documents and action plans. It is supposed to be finished by 2023 but is already running late for its mid-term deadlines. The current minister decided to fundamentally review the project and has therefore put a temporary halt to it.

Lucija B. Petavs is the editor of Medicina Danes (Medicine Today), a by-weekly publication by Finance daily newspaper

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