Information and Communication Technologies in the Spanish National Healthcare System – Current Status

Information and Communication Technologies in the Spanish National Healthcare System – Current Status

George Kontaxakis, José Luis Conesa, Jorge Rodrigo, Isidoro Padilla, Carlos A. López-Barrio
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-885-2.ch007
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The implementation of information and communication technologies (ICT) for health in Spain is described. In the framework of the Healthcare Online program put into operation by the Spanish government, a series of initiatives have been undertaken at the regional level in Spain, in order to address the demand from both citizens and healthcare professionals for better, more efficient, and cost-effective care. This chapter focuses on the results of a study at the national level on the current status of basic healthcare services based on ICT, such as the individual health card, interoperable electronic healthcare records, e-prescription, etc. During recent years, strategic projects carried out by the Spanish government, in collaboration with the Regional Departments of Health, have demonstrated significant progress towards the adaptation of the National Healthcare System to current information technologies, by optimizing the utilization of available resources, controlling healthcare expenditures, and consequently offering more efficient and sustainable healthcare services and tools for professionals and citizens for easy access to better and more structured information for their healthcare-related decisions.
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Health Care In Spain And The Spanish National Healthcare System

In the Spanish Constitution, passed in 1978, there are three basic administrative levels: the National Administration (Central Government, that takes care of issues common to the whole country, for example, defense or foreign affairs); local administration (City Council, that takes care of issues at the city level, e.g. public transport); and an intermediate level, by the administrative division of the country into 17 autonomous regions and 2 autonomous cities (Ceuta and Melilla, in the northwestern Mediterranean coast of Africa). These communities (Comunidades Autónomas) were created to provide a greater degree of autonomy to the different regions that geographically and ethnically compose Spain, and that have quite different cultures and even spoken languages (what is known worldwide as Spanish is in fact the Castilian language, which coexists in Spain with Catalan, Basque, or Galician in some regions).

According to the Constitution, the provision of health care is a fundamental right of all citizens. The General Health Law 14/1986 regulates this constitutional right, according to the following principles (Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs, 2008):

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