It was only at the end of the 20th century that the technological revolution took place. The 1980s saw a drastic change in the use of digitalized formats of work using computer-based systems.
Today, the use of technology as a source of impacting society for the good is revolutionising the world. Starting from flying to the moon, to realizing that climate change is real, the impression that a digitalised platform can have on the people is extraordinary. But, if the goal is to change the world for the good, there is no other way than touching the lives of individuals on the ground level.
Estonia is such a country in Northern Europe that is renowned for its integrated digital government services. The Republic of Estonia, with a population of 13.2 lakhs, one of their groundbreaking success is in the healthcare services provided to the citizens. The e-healthcare service caters to the needs of the population of Estonia to make healthcare fast and efficient. Beginning in 2008, Estonia brought in digital media into play.
Patients own their health data and hospitals have made this available online. Today over 95% of the data generated by the doctors and hospitals have been digitalised. e-Health involves the solutions that allow Estonia to offer efficient preventive measures, along with increasing the awareness of the patients towards their medical care. This also saves a lot of money that would otherwise be spent on tests conducted again and again over a long period.
With the need for organized medical care, the government and the doctors involved in exquisite work leading to notable healthcare techniques is a remarkable achievement.
Each individual in Estonia that has visited a doctor once has his or her e-Health record which contains their medical test reports previously done, digital prescriptions and X-rays. Along with this, they have access to full log-file data. The doctors can track the health conditions of their patients once registered. This way they can keep a track on their health and change in medical prescriptions no matter where they are and thus make better and informed treatment decisions. The data is secured, which is stored online and is easily accessed by the patients by their electronic ID cards.
Estonia has 99% of health data digitalized. 100% of the billing in healthcare is done electronically without the issue of payment during emergencies. The involvement of doctors with patients is commendable; around 500,000 queries are posted by the doctors.
Three solutions viz-a-viz e-health records, e-Ambulance, and e-Prescription are working wonders in the field of electronic healthcare, making it faster and more efficient.
While e-Health Records are what are stored securely online, e-Ambulance is a quick-response solution that detects any phone calls made by people who meet accidents. The phone call is positioned for the ambulance within 30 seconds. The emergency ambulance reaches the spot fast.
The patient who is already registered digitally does not need to test again. The doctor can simply use his/her ID code to read time-critical information. Such information can consist of allergies, the type of blood, treatment received previously and any on-going medication.
Not only has life expectancy has risen rapidly because of the e-Ambulance, but it has also proven to bring about change in the awareness levels of people of Estonia.
e-Prescription is another key innovation in Estonia’s cutting edge Healthcare system. The medicines are prescribed electronically, giving way to the paperless system for issuing and handling medical prescriptions. Technically, this is done by the use of an online form. All that the patient needs to do is present his/her ID card. The data consisting of the medicines is retrieved from the system and medicines are issued accordingly. Patients can configure people who can have access to their data. For example, allowing family members or both parents being able to view their child’s records online is one such case. This access can also be revoked by the guardian.
The data in the e-Prescription system is drawn from health insurance. Such medical subsidies also show in the prescription and the patient is henceforth discounted.
When in need of any further prescriptions, doctor visits are no longer needed. Any add-ons to medicines are hence taken care of online.
Doctors can be contacted via e-mail, skype or phone. Today, 99% of medicines are issued online. The amount of time that is saved during the process, the money involved in transportation is huge. Doctors can, therefore, pay attention to other important or fatal operations/surgeries.
All these services are provided to the people of Estonia by the use of the KSI Blockchain technology.
It is a mathematically ensured cybersecurity technology for rapid and immutable identification of modifications in digital data and intelligent devices. The blockchain technology has become a popular topic in recent years. But, Estonia has been using it since 2008, calling it ‘hash-linked time-stamping’. Thereafter, blockchain has been in constant use in Estonia in all their fields including the public and the private sector.
Protecting data in healthcare and digital records that consist of invaluable information that if lost, can be life-threatening, holds utmost importance. Blockchain provides the ‘digital defence dust’ that covers all data and devices that need protection from misuse and corruption.
This way not only millions are lives are saved, but the resources involved are also taken care of. Manipulation and loss of data are intelligently detected and necessary changes are instantly brought about.
The blockchain technology used by Estonia is different than the general blockchains. This enables large amounts of data to be verified. The technology detects who has taken a look at an individual’s digital health data, and if and when any changes were brought about.
The developers of Estonian healthcare include some Estonian companies like Nortal, Helmes, Guardtime, INTELYS, Stacc, and Queretec. These work on particular sections of the three major domains.
e-Healthcare is not the only service for the betterment of society. It is part of the building blocks of e-Estonia, the country now working entirely on digital formats. The blockchain technology is now a part of education, banking, elections, entrepreneurship as well. These together constitute the functioning of the Estonian system. It is remarkable that after independence in 1991, the Estonian government was able to break from old governance structures and create the technology we know today.
The functioning of the government and the citizens together gives a great example of how together, with the use of technology, lives can be changed. Human beings are capable of saving lives today with advancement in methods used in various fronts. A nation is made of its people. Healthy people make a healthy nation. Intelligent individuals who are aware of their surroundings, along with technology can bring about magnificent breakthroughs on life on Earth.