The Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia has announced that it will roll-out a new electronic health insurance card system across the country.

Initially being used for insurance data, the e-health card offers the basis to add future e-health services, including e-prescriptions and electronic health records.

The new system, based on IBM technology, will enable healthcare providers to check a patient’s health insurance status and allow them to process claims online.

The Slovenian e-health card is based on an IBM integrated IT infrastructure solution, linking healthcare providers to both public and private organisations. IBM has provided the hardware, software and service to create the central infrastructure for the project.

Previously, the patient’s insurance data was stored in the insurance card rather than on a remote server. Patients had to update their cards on self-service terminals every few months. However, this system will be phased out over the next six months and replaced with the new one.

The national roll-out follows a pilot at the Dr Franc Deganc General hospital in the Nova Gorica region of Slovenia, which was completed in March 2009.

After the pilot ended the system was extended to more than 100 organisations in the Gorenjska and Primorska regions.

IBM says that the national roll-out will be fully operational by the beginning of 2010 and will be used by more than 30,000 health professionals and two million patients. The system is the first in the country to cover both public and private insurance organisations.

Samo Fakin, general manager of the Slovenian Health Insurance Institute, said: “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.

Fakin added: “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 healthcare.”

Roman Koritnik, general manger of IBM Slovenia, said: “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.

The integrated e-health card will also allow for additional functionality to be added in the future, including electronic prescriptions and electronic medical records.

Koritnik added: “The infrastructure created for the new electronic health insurance system provides a strong platform for further development of Slovenia’s healthcare system.”