Day 1 of 'e-health' system sees numerous problems

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Family physicians reported numerous problems January 2 due to failures in the electronic health system, Latvian Family Physicians Association's President Sarmite Veide told the LETA news service.

Veide personally could not fill out a single sick leave form today due to errors in the e-health system. "I didn't even try prescriptions," said Veide.

The system was very slow all day, and there were a lot of errors. "Issuing a sick leave takes three clicks, but even this is taking the system ten minutes, and the system does not accept the document in the end," said Veide, stressing that the way the e-health system was working today was an embarrassment.

The National Health Service said earlier in the day that the e-health system was working, although in some cases it could be slow. In case of technical errors, such as no Internet access, family physicians should return to paper documents.

Vizma Viksna, Head of the pharmacy department at Benu Pharmacies, told Latvian Radio there was a knock-on effect to the pharmacies too, with customers unsure what documents they should have in order to collect prescriptions.

Using the e-health system became mandatory for all healthcare institutions in Latvia on January 1. It has been in development for years at considerable cost, but has met with stiff resistance from doctors after pilot projects reported problems and time-consuming delays 

The National Health Service insists that those glitches are temporary but admits they may recur over the next few days. The National Health Service said that the malfunctions were due to the steep increase in the number of users and the documents prepared in the e-health system - not exactly an unexpected consequence of making it compulsory on a set date.

The number of users has increased fourfold compared to early December, while the number of e-prescriptions has soared from on average 6,400 daily to nearly 18,000 on December 2 and the number of sick notes entered in the system has also increased from around 700 a day to 5,000.

In case of technical malfunctions, patients can still get paper prescriptions and physicians are allowed to register sick notes in the system within the next five working days.

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