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July 3, 2020

Digitalisation of the Health Services in Turkey

Innovation & Fintech
Reading Time: 4 minutes

I. INTRODUCTION

With the developing technology and changing consumer behaviors and demands, we see that many sectors have undergone profound changes in recent years, some sectors have completely disappeared, and new ones have emerged. These changes have paved the way for the birth of a new digital age. Digital transformation tools, which play an important role in the realization of digital transformation, can be listed as virtualized networks, data analysis, multi-layered security, and virtual storage technologies. Thanks to these tools, many digital technology applications such as big data, e-commerce, e-health, internet of things, data mining, messaging applications, cybersecurity and wearable technologies were introduced to the daily lives of people.[1] Undoubtedly, digital transformation has also led to important changes in the field of health. With this transformation, it is aimed to achieve important results in terms of cost and efficiency, while improving patient satisfaction and decision-making processes.

II. DIGITALISATION STEPS IN HEALTH SERVICES

The adventures of the digitalization of health services in Turkey has started in the 1990s. The digitization initiatives pioneered by the Ministry of Health (“Ministry”) in the 1990s started to be implemented effectively in the 2000s and continues rapidly today. Accordingly, the Health Project General Coordinatorship (“HPGC”) was established in 1990 for the preparation and implementation of health projects, and subsequently the Ministry of Health Information Processing Department (“MHIPD”) started its activities in 1996.[2] In the 1990s, efforts were made to connect all hospitals to the internet through a common network and to develop a single Hospital Information Management System (“HIMS”), but the widespread use of HIMS was only possible after the 2000s.[3]

HIMS is a cluster of software that enables the processes performed by the hospitals to be carried out electronically, and it enables many units working in different fields such as human resources, hospital pharmacy, the operating room to communicate with each other. It can transfer the images and information obtained from operations carried out with medical devices to other systems integrated systems such as picture archiving and communication systems (“PACS”) and magnetic resonance (“MR”).[4]

The radical breakthroughs in health Technologies and informatics gained momentum with the Health Transformation Program (“HTP”), which was launched in 2003. In this context, with the spread of HIMS, the Health-Net project was launched; projects such as the Central Physician Appointment System (“CPAS”) have been put into practice thanks to the increased planning capacity in hospitals and applications such as MEDULA were implemented with the establishment of SSI. The Pharmaceutical Tracking System (“PTS”), which monitored the entire process of medicines from the manufacturer to the citizens was put into practice in 2010, has become a successful example worldwide, and even exported to Saudi Arabia in 2017. One of the goals of digitalization of health services is to improve the medical decision-making processes by obtaining more and better data and to achieve this, the Decision Support System (“DSS”) was put into practice in 2007 and developed over time.[5]

Another important transformation related to health data was the implementation of the e-Pulse application. E-Pulse, which is an application that healthcare data collected from health institutions can be accessed by healthcare professionals and citizens, on the internet and mobile devices; increased the speed and quality of the diagnosis and treatment process. E-Pulse also stands out in the world as a very widespread and comprehensive health informatics infrastructure that facilitates communication between the patient and the physician and enables the person to access their health data safely over the internet.[6]

Another aspect of digitization in health services is the digitization of the hospital, one of the primary areas where health services are provided. The digital hospital is defined as the hospital where all medical and non-medical information and communication systems work integrated with hospital technologies and that the processes performed and managed with automation systems instead of manual processes and usage of paper and in which it is possible to exchange data inside and outside the hospital with mobile health applications. Certification and processes for digital hospitals are carried out by the organization named Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (“HIMSS”). HIMSS uses the globally accepted accreditation and a standard model from 1 to 7 to evaluate the digital processes of the hospitals that apply and reward the hospitals that have completed their digital processes up to the sixth and seventh levels.[7] Currently, in Turkey, there are 10 hospitals in level 6 and 3 hospitals in level 7.

III. CONCLUSION

It is seen that the services provided in the health field are transforming with the effect of technology, delivery thereof has changed and accelerated, and more people have access to health services. Our country adapts to the rapidly rising health technology trends in the world and the health services offered by the public sector are becoming more and more technology-based each day. COVID-19, which has affected the whole world, once again proved the importance of health technologies. It is expected that the use of health technologies that will allow remote access, such as telemedicine, will increase in Turkey.

 

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Kılınç Law & Consulting

[1] IŞIK, T: Türkiye’de Sağlık Kurumlarında Dijital Dönüşüm Adımları, Sağlık Hizmetleri Uygulamalarında Dijital Dönüşüm, 2019

[2] IŞIK, T: Türkiye’de Sağlık Kurumlarında Dijital Dönüşüm Adımları, Sağlık Hizmetleri Uygulamalarında Dijital Dönüşüm, 2019

[3] KÖSE, İ: Sağlıkta Dijital Dönüşüm, Sağlık Düşüncesi ve Tıp Kültürü Dergisi, Güz 2018, s.82-85

[4] KURTULMUŞ KOSİF, E: Kurumların Dijital Dönüşüm Süreçlerinin İncelenmesi: Bir Sağlık Kurumu İçin Öneri, İstanbul Üniversitesi Fen Bilimleri Enstitüsü Yüksek Lisans Tezi, 2019

[5] KÖSE, İ: Sağlıkta Dijital Dönüşüm, Sağlık Düşüncesi ve Tıp Kültürü Dergisi, Güz 2018, s.82-85

[6] Sağlık Bakanlığı, https://enabiz.gov.tr/

[7] Sağlık Bakanlığı, https://dijitalhastane.saglik.gov.tr/

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