All child healthcare providers will have to introduce electronic patient records by the end of 2009.

André Rouvoet, the Dutch minister for youth and family, has said all institutions and bodies dealing with the healthcare of children must be using electronic patient files by the end of 2009.

The minister set out the requirement in a letter to the Dutch parliament last month. The new electronic patient files will contain information on the child, his or her family situation and circumstances.

The new electronic records will help improve the quality of children’s healthcare by collecting all the crucial information about a child’s medical history in one central document which can be consulted by authorised personnel.

Once the system is up and running, every new child will receive an electronic file during their first contact with a health institution.

The introduction of the electronic files will occur in three phases, said Rouvoet. In the first phase, existing paper files will be digitised.

For this target to be achieved the minister said all institutions involved in child health care will from the start of 2009 have to have started work on the digitisation process.

Phase two of the programme will be based on introducing the necessary data transfer infrastructure. In the final stage, a feasibility study will be carried out to investigate the entire information exchange chain in the children’s care sector.