Find former epSOS Services

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


1. When did the project start?

The project started on 1st July 2008 and was expanded on 1st January 2011. It will end on June 30th 2014. More information on the project structure can be found Opens internal link in current windowhere.

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2. Which countries are involved?

The project team consists of 47 beneficiaries from 22 European Union (EU) Member States and 3 non-EU Member States. These are:

epSOS Participating Nations
Austria Greece Slovakia
Belgium Hungary Slovenia
Croatia Italy Spain
Czech Republic Luxembourg Sweden
Denmark Malta Switzerland
Estonia Norway The Netherlands
Finland Poland Turkey
France Portugal United Kingdom
Germany    

epSOS is coordinated by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) from Sweden.

See also the  list of beneficiaries.

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3. Is the project open to new beneficiaries?

Yes. The current partnership includes European health regions, competence centres, and industrial corporations. Two years of extensive preparation were necessary for this multifaceted project, which is also reflected by the detailed and complex work plan and budget. Decisions regarding the involvement of new beneficiaries are made by the Project Steering Board and will depend on the phase and progress of the project as well as the added value a new member would contribute. However, interested authorities and competence centres can follow the development closely through the CALLIOPE Thematic Network.

If you are interested in further information, please contact the coordinator.

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4. Which companies are involved?

Industry is organised as a consortium of approximately 30 companies, represented in the project by IHE Europe. You can view the current list of Industry Team members Opens internal link in current windowhere.

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5. What is the project budget?

The amount allocated towards the project totals about EUR 36.500.000,--, of which 50 percent  is co-funded by the EU. The beneficiaries agreed to finance a joint coordination structure and activities, thus decreasing the effective EU-funding to approximately 40 percent. The companies that cooperate in the epSOS Industry Team are not funded; they are expected to have indirect benefits as a result of participating in the project.

The national authorities (health ministries) of some countries will support the project with  non-refunded person months.

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6. How do Participating Nations contribute?

The project partners have a strong commitment to developing solutions and services that will be beneficial to all Participating Nations (PN) as well as other interested countries throughout Europe and worldwide.

Usually one of the project Participating Nations has a Work Package Leader function, which can also be shared by two countries. They are supported by the other PN to ensure each work package is completed successfully. Local ministries, competence centres and numerous industrial partners work as a team to reach competent solutions for European patients.

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7. Is epSOS a research project?

No. epSOS is a so-called Information & Communication Technology Policy Support Project (ICT PSP), through which existing technical solutions communicate cross-border and operate reciprocally. This will be tested in pilots, involving hospitals, doctors and pharmacies.

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8. How will European citizens benefit?

The goal of the epSOS Large Scale Pilot project is to develop and test (“pilot”) services that

  • enable patients to receive medication (ePrescriptions) when they are in another European country. The medication must initially be prescribed in one of the epSOS health professional in the patient's home country.
  • permit health professionals to receive the relevant, translated clinical information stored in the patient’s home country (“Patient Summary”). This is only possible in the case of consultation and when the patient gives his/her consent.

9. What are the expected results of the project?

Recommendations, technical specifications, system descriptions, organisation models, software, software tools, etc. are aimed at  improving the interoperability on a multinational level.

In addition, there will be pilot implementations in several regions.

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10. What will happen with the results?

The project partners in cooperation with the eHealth Governance Initiative and other Large Scale Pilots (like STORK) will disseminate the results to all European member states as well as non-EU countries. Everyone interested will be able to access the results free of charge.

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11. May non-Participating Nations and companies access the results?

Yes, all results will be accessible for non-Participating Nations and companies.

12. Is epSOS a health card project?

No, epSOS is not a health card project, although health card-based infrastructure and communication systems are integrated into the project. In addition, know-how that has been attained through health card- or similar projects will be included in the results.

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13. Will my health record be emailed or faxed and will my individual health data be protected?

One of the basic concepts of the project is to keep the data at the place of its origin or to store it in accordance with the respective national and legal guidelines. One of the top-priority rules of the project is to ensure the protection of all healthcare records at all times, and to comply with EU legislation as well as all national data protection legislation standards. This whole process is subject to very strict data security and protection standards. This means that your data will not be e-mailed/faxed. For detailed information about the Framework Agreement, click here.

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14. How will the project deal with different languages, terminologies, organisation of health systems and different technical environments?

The project has a strong technical focus, but it will also tackle questions on semantic and legal interoperability. The interoperability of different technical environments, which is not only a question of cross-border communication, will be the main challenge. However, in the testing phase concrete interoperable data will be available, which requires a special focus on content and semantics. Please read more under technical and legal background.

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15. Will the project foster co-operation of EU-Member States on the health sector?

As all European health systems face the same challenges, closer cross-border cooperation will help to establish a more efficient structure of health services. The number of mobile patients expecting medical treatment in EU member states, other than that of their residence, is increasing. The common use of information technologies will increase the availability and quality of treatment for those patients.

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16. Will the project influence competences of the European institutions and member states in the fields of health and social security?

The project is defined as an ICT policy support project. Its main purpose is to test the interoperability of existing technical solutions in the participating nations. The results of the project could include recommendations, organizational or technical specifications or software tools. The implementation of the results into national IT-systems or the adoption of cross-border cooperation models will be decided by the EU member states according to the EU treaties.

Nevertheless, the results will presumably influence future policies in the area of health and social security. The implementation of the project results will not be legally binding.

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17. In what form is the patient data provided in the epSOS project? How can I access the data and in what form do I have to provide patient data?

Patient data is always provided in an encoded secure electronic form. This means that the data is either available/integrated in your familiar working station or in the epSOS portal. You should never receive or send patient data as a fax, email or paper document! Data is only received and transmitted via the epSOS protal or your familiar working station after a medical checkup. Please be aware patient data can ONLY be accessed once the patient has given his consent.

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18. What is an epSOS Point of Care (PoC)?

A Point of Care (PoC) is a medical institution that participates in the epSOS project by providing epSOS Services. A PoC can for example be an out-patient care unit, a hospital, a pharmacy or any other medical institution. A list of all participating epSOS PoC can be found here.

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19. Who can participate in the epSOS pilot project?

The epSOS pilot project is open to all citizens, physicians, hospitals, healthcare centres or pharmacists that are living/located in those European countries participating in the pilot project.

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20. How is the intervention reflected in the patient’s home country database? How is information kept up-to-date?

A diagnosis or intervention reflected on your local system can be transferred electronically to the patient’s home country database automatically. This relies strongly on the status of your country within the epSOS project. The status determines whether a country is only able to receive patient information or if it can also transmit patient data to their home country. Please contact your National Contact Point to find out the status of your country.

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21. What are epSOS Services?

epSOS Services are

  • ePrescription
  • Patient Summary
  • Integration of the 112 emergency services
  • Integration of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
  • Patient access to data

Please read more about the epSOS Services.

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22. What is the National Contact Point (NCP)?

Each Participating Nation (PN) in epSOS is represented by a National Contact Point (NCP). An epSOS NCP is an organization delegated by each PN to act as a bidirectional way of interfacing between the existing different national functions provided by the national IT infrastructures and those provided by the common European infrastructure created in epSOS. The NCP takes care of external and internal national communication and functions in epSOS and the semantic mapping (if necessary) between information on either side. The NCP also acts as a kind of mediator as far as the legal and regulatory aspects are concerned. The NCP creates the conditions (by supporting trust, data protection and privacy) for a trusted relationship with other countries’ NCPs.

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23. What is the legal framework (agreement) (FWA)?

In order to establish the framework of trust, the project partners have agreed on the epSOS Framework Agreement (FWA). The core purpose of the FWA is to establish the epSOS Trusted Domain which shall be seen as an extension beyond a certain national or regional territory where those national/regional eHealth services can be delivered. 

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24. Which standards are used?

The general policy in epSOS is to adopt international standards rather than develop project specific standards. The exchange of data among the NCPs is specified by adopting IHE X* profiles, with limited modifications, currently under evaluation by IHE for their integration in IHE specification. The documents exchanged (Patient Summary / ePrescription / eDispensation) are defined by adopting HL7 CDA V2.0 with reference to IHE PCC. The terminologies for expressing data sets and concepts are built using WHO ICD10 and ATC, EDQM, SNOMED-CT, ISO, ISCO, HL7, IHE.

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25. What is the epSOS portal?

The epSOS portal is a technical system that serves as a user interface for professionals to access epSOS Services, for example to request a Patient Summary or an ePrescription, to generate the eDispensation or to handle the patient consent.

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If you need any further information, don’t hesitate to contact us!