What does the Electronic Data Exchange in Healthcare Act (Wegiz) mean for healthcare providers?

By Justine de Boer

The Electronic Data Exchange in Healthcare Act (the Wegiz) requires healthcare providers to exchange data electronically from now on. In this way, care is provided to the patient faster and more efficiently. On April 18, 2023, the bill for the Wegiz was unanimously passed by the Senate. Since the law will enter into force on July 1, 2023, the most important questions about the Wegiz will be answered below.

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Why is the Wegiz necessary?

Healthcare providers use multiple channels to exchange information, such as via paper, DVD, USB-stick or fax. These systems often do not fit together. If healthcare providers do not have accurate or complete medical information about the patient, they are more likely to make mistakes in the provision of care. With the mandatory electronic exchange of data, the Wegiz supports the urgent need of healthcare providers to exchange medical data more easily. This increases access for healthcare providers to medical data and allows healthcare providers to spend more time on patients by reducing the administrative burden.

Who does the Wegiz apply to?

The law will apply to all healthcare providers in the healthcare sector, including healthcare institutions (and to solo care providers), such as: hospitals, GP practices, nursing homes and physiotherapy practices. The ICT suppliers of these healthcare providers will also have to deal with the Wegiz. The Wegiz sets standards that the software of ICT suppliers must meet.

What does the Wegiz regulate?

The Wegiz gives the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) the authority to designate data exchanges that must be exchanged electronically from now on. For healthcare providers, this means that they must ensure that their healthcare providers exchange healthcare data digitally. The law therefore regulates how the exchange of data must take place. The Wegiz does not determine what data is exchanged. Which data is exchanged for good care is determined by the care providers themselves.

Long-term agenda Wegiz

The Long-Term Agenda Wegiz contains the data exchanges that have been designated by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, in consultation with the healthcare sector, to be the first to be made mandatory electronically. Currently, five data exchanges have been prioritised on the Long-Term Agenda Wegiz, namely:

– Transfer of basic dataset Care (patient transfer) between medical-specialist care institutions

– Exchange of images and reports (of radiology images) between medical-specialist care institutions– Medication transfer (for prescribing and dispensing medication)

– Nursing transfer within home care organisations, nursing and care homes and hospitals

– Transfer for acute care (for e.g. general practitioners, hospitals and ambulance services)

Certification of ICT-systems

The Minister may stipulate that a data exchange must be carried out electronically and that the ICT-systems used must comply with (yet to be determined) requirements for language and technology. In the coming period, the Netherlands Standardization Institute (NEN), in collaboration with the healthcare field, will develop a system of NEN standards and certification schemes. As soon as these are available, it is important that all ICT-systems are certified on time. This could be quite a race against time.

Healthcare providers must make agreements with ICT suppliers about requirements that will be set for the language and technology of the software used and about the speed of certification of the software.

Prepare for the Wegiz

The Wegiz will come into effect on July 1, 2023. From 2024 onwards, the rules are expected that will require data exchanges on the Long-Term Agenda Wegiz to take place electronically. It is wise for healthcare providers to start preparing for the Wegiz in good time, so that the transition to the use of new and secure systems can take place smoothly.

More questions about the Wegiz? Or does your organization need help to digitize data exchange processes in compliance with all laws and regulations? Please contact one of our advisors.

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