Estonian is an old Repubblic on the banks of Baltic Sea and it is the most advanced digital society on the Planet. This fact is unlikely, but it is still sure. On the tram, as they are going to work, or in the dentist waiting room, the Estonian citizens can pass their time on Facebook, or they can do their weekly shopping, but they can also have their passport renewed or they can sign a document or set up a company. Then, welcome to Estonian, the country whose business card is technology!
In the Ambulance Parking of North Estonia Medical Centre, a public hospital northeast of Tallin, Arkadi Popof does a practical demonstration for us of what we have just said. He opens up the App used by the Medical Team from 2015 on an Ipad. “If we enter the identification code of the patient we have just taken into care, we can access his/her medical history, we can find the contact numbers of his relatives, including the number of his doctor. Having these important information from the start at our disposal, is absolutely essential. In this way, we can make no mistakes at a time when we need to take a decision and, clearly, we can save lives.” Popof summarizes. He is an affable doctor, wearing the strict white lab coat, but also a pair of sneakers with run-down soles, which reveal too many runs during a service able to accept about 250 people a day. When an ambulance is arriving at the hospital, the medical staff can see the path through a GPS, and in this way they can prepare for arrival. “This kind of information is also very valuable: as a matter of fact everything that allows us to reduce chaos is really very important.”
If a patient comes in a critical state and he/she needs an immediate surgery, the nurse Rita Beljuskina and the anaesthesiologist Sergei Kagalo will be able to see his entry in the system in real time. Inside the Surgery Department there is a big display, that also shows the free operating rooms in real time. The blackboard, which was used until five years ago, when everything was organized with phone and marker, is white. “Through the electronic operating room booking system, which is the first in Estonian” points out Kagalo “surgeons enter patient’s data and also indicate the urgency level of each surgery; Code Red if patient needs an emergency surgery; Code Yellow if he/she can wait until 2 hours; Code Grey if he can wait until 24 hours. Moreover, surgeons specify the kind of instruments and personnel they need for each surgery and, finally, the expected duration of each surgery. “In this way, we have today a less booking surplus, less waitings and less deletions. In addition, we have also resolved other problems, maybe less important, but likewise essential. For example, in the past doctors sometimes forgot to write in the medical record which antibiotic the patient had to take. Today, we cannot close a booking without this information.” Beljuskina tells us. Once the surgery is finished, the surgeons go to the computer room to complete the patient’s report and once the patient has been released from the hospital, the report will be encrypted and it wil became a part of the medical history of the patient.
Later, the patient himself will decide, if the dossier showing his/her passage at the North Estonian Medical Centre, should be visible to other specialists, who are treating him or if the dossier should be protected, so that no one can see it. In the Estonian system citizens are the only owners of their personal data and when, for example, a judge, a police officer or a public transport official accesses to them, the consultation is recorded and if it is considered unjustified……(t.b.c.).