IBM establishes Global Healthcare Centre of Excellence in La Gaude, France and helps Government of Slovenia to build smart health insurance system

La Gaude, Ljubljana 13 May 2009The Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia will roll out a new electronic health insurance card system based on IBM technology across the country. The new system enables health care providers to instantly and accurately check a patient's health insurance status and allows for health claims to be processed on-line. In La Gaude, France, IBM will open a new Global Healthcare Centre of Excellence. Expanding its global health care capability, the Centre of Excellence will help IBM health care clients design and create health care and life sciences solutions that improve care delivery, predict and prevent disease and enable smarter individual health and wellness.


Specialists at the Centre will provide deep levels of industry knowledge and expertise in areas such as research, design and solutions across electronic medical and health records, health care analytics, business intelligence and patient-centric solutions. From this base in the IBM Business Solutions Centre at La Gaude, the Centre of Excellence will draw upon the knowledge and expertise of up to 4000 IBM health care IT and health care process experts worldwide.

"The new La Gaude Centre is an important aspect of our global strategy", stated Sean Hogan, Vice President, IBM Global Healthcare & Life Sciences. "Not only can we showcase health care best practice capabilities that we observe around the world, but we can also create a collaborative environment in which to work with clients to create new insights and innovations that improve the value that our health systems provide to citizens."

The Centre will host a range of immersive solutions showcases that illustrate health care scenarios. Featuring applications running in home, general practitioner clinic, hospital and emergency response centre environments, visiting clients will be able to experience real-life situations to help them visualise and jointly develop smarter systems.

Focusing on health care analytics, business intelligence, electronic medical and health records, identity management and unified communications, the Centre will offer experiential demonstrations; architecture consultancy; proof of concept and prototype demonstrations; integration of partner solutions; and, complex solutions design. It will also provide prototyping across areas such as RFID, telemedicine, regional and national health portals, telematics and mobile applications.

"By establishing the Centre of Excellence, we can enable our clients to build collaborative, co-ordinated health care systems and electronic medical records that stimulate integration and efficiency", stated Francois Commagnac, Leader, Global Healthcare Centre of Excellence, IBM. "As an increasing number of clients seek to implement instrumented, interconnected and intelligent systems, the Centre is an ideal environment in which to experience and demonstrate the value of Smarter Healthcare."

The decision to implement the new electronic health insurance system nationwide in Slovenia comes after the successful completion of a pilot programme at Dr. Franc Derganc General Hospital in the Nova Gorica region of Slovenia.

The system is based on an IBM integrated IT infrastructure solution, which links health care providers to both public and private health insurance organisations. It uses an electronic health insurance card that will be carried by every Slovenian citizen and presented at the point of health care delivery.

Each electronic card carries a digital certificate which identifies the patient and enables the health care provider to access the patient's health insurance data on-line. During home visits, doctors can even check the health insurance data remotely by sending the patient's health insurance number as an SMS message.

"Our decision to implement the electronic health insurance card system across the country will give Slovenia one of the most advanced health insurance systems in the world", stated Samo Fakin, General Manager of the Slovenian Health Insurance Institute. "Although a number of countries across the globe have electronic health insurance systems, Slovenia is the first to integrate both public and private insurance organisations - all national partners in health care."

With the former system, the patient's insurance data was stored on the actual insurance card rather than on a remote server. Patients were required to update their insurance data on the card every few months at self-service terminals. The former system, from today's perspective, was costly, inefficient and inaccurate for health insurance providers as well as being inconvenient for patients. With confidential data stored on the cards, it was also less secure. Over the next six months this system will be phased out.

Since the completion of the pilot at Franc Derganc General Hospital in March 2009, the new system has been extended to over 100 health care institutions in the Gorenjska and Primorska regions. Planned to be fully operational by January 2010, the new system will be used by approximately 30.000 health professionals and more than two million patients in health institutions across Slovenia.

Implementation of the new electronic health insurance system and the creation of the integrated IT infrastructure pave the way for additional functionality such as electronic prescriptions and electronic medical records.

"IBM has extensive global experience in helping governments to create smarter systems that save money, create operational efficiencies and improve the quality of life for citizens", stated Roman Koritnik, General Manager of IBM Slovenia. "The infrastructure created for the new electronic health insurance system provides a strong platform for further development of Slovenia's health care system."

IBM provided the hardware, software and services in order to create the central IT infrastructure for the project. The solution is based on IBM System z10 hardware running WebSphere and DB2 software. The main software components include modules for identifying, authenticating and authorizing health professionals to ensure a secure communication channel between the health care provider and insurer.

Elsewhere in Europe, IBM drives health care innovation at its Zurich Research Laboratory. Researchers at Zurich successfully developed the Anatomic and Symbolic Mapper Engine (ASME), which enables doctors to navigate a 3D virtual map of the human body and access medical information graphically. ASME is currently being piloted at the Thy-Mors hospital in northern Denmark.

More company news is available in this VMW issue's article IBM and medical researchers launch effort to find flu drug treatments.

Source: IBM

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