Bruno Bruins, the Dutch Minister for Medical Care, announced last week that patients must be put in control of their own electronic medical records as quickly as possible. This announcement immediately reopened the debate on the importance of decentralised ‘soft’ infrastructure and open standards in the Dutch healthcare sector.
The ineffective sharing of medical records has been a long-standing problem in healthcare. The lack of information exchange means that people have to explain their situation over and over again, that different healthcare professionals have to input the same data, that some medical tests are repeated unnecessarily and that mistakes are made which could have been avoided. According to an article published last week in Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, the Dutch government expects patients to be given the right to access their electronic medical records by the end of next year.
To facilitate data sharing in the healthcare sector and to give patients control over their own data, it is necessary to create a uniform set of agreements (i.e. soft infrastructure) covering how data is shared, who is authorised to access or process which data, and under which conditions the data may be accessed or processed.
Last week the importance of soft infrastructure was also covered in an article in the Dutch financial broadsheet, Het Financieele Dagblad.
For more details, read our blog on data sovereignty and 'soft' infrastructures.