Health Ministry launches new medical data sharing system

"Revolutionary" project to allow specific health care professionals to access medical records of patients while keeping information privileged.

Heath care professionals. [Illustrative] (photo credit: REUTERS)
Heath care professionals. [Illustrative]
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Health Ministry has launched a medical data sharing system that now allows specific professionals in health fund clinics and hospitals to access medical records of patients while keeping the information privileged.
There is no central data bank of medical files in the hospital.
The medical data sharing project is “revolutionary, the first to be established on a national level,” the ministry said.
Certain sensitive information – such as whether one is an HIV carrier, is involved in a surrogacy agreement to produce a child or was raped, for example – is automatically not circulated. In addition, anyone who wants to opt out of the program can do so by filling out a form.
The ministry notes that much time and money are wasted when patients treated by their health fund doctors are hospitalized, and the same tests are performed again.
In addition, hospital professionals who have to treat patients urgently now have vital medical data available.
The four health funds will continue to supply protected medical data within their own institutions to its doctors in the community.
The medical professionals in medical centers do not receive actual medical files; these become virtual, giving access during a hospital visit to an emergency room or outpatient clinic or during a hospital stay, and a certain amount of time after that, to allow follow-up.
The health funds receive summaries of their members’ stays in emergency rooms and hospitalization – but only on the same day they are discharged. Information from medical summaries in files of IDF soldiers will be included later in the program.
The ministry said on Thursday that the new system will help reduce diagnostic and treatment errors resulting from the lack of up-todate and accurate medical data and make it possible for doctors to make better decisions. It will also reduce pain in patients who will not have to undergo repeated tests, and keep them from being exposed needlessly to radiation from x-rays and other scanners.
Much attention during the planning was given to preventing medical information from leaking out to those who have no reason to see it and protect individual privacy, the ministry said. Those who can view the medical files are given permission according to their professional file and function in the medical institution.
The ministry said that the data moves from sites that are linked through a protected system that is encoded on both ends. The system will not allow cyber attacks on medical data, the ministry declared.
In addition, very sensitive data – such as when a patient has undergone an abortion; been examined or treated at mental health clinics; has been tested for the AIDS virus; has donated sperm or ova; has undergone genetic tests and consultations; or has applied for or undergone surrogate parenthood or adoption – are not kept in the system.
Any individual who objects to having his medical data in the system can request in writing from his own health fund that the data be eliminated – even though the ministry said this step is not recommended, because it could harm the level of medical treatment. The request will be carried out within 30 days. The opting out will be comprehensive; certain data on a patient cannot be selected for remaining in the system.
Medical records at private hospitals such as the Herzliya Medical Center and Assuta Medical Centers will be included in the system at a later stage, except for patients who opt out. Private urgent care centers such as Beterem are not included at this stage, the ministry said.