Healthcare reform under way in Albania and Kosovo


Implementing records systems in Albania and Kosovo would make hospitals more efficient.

By Muhamet Brajshori and Safet Kabahsaj for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 24/01/13


New systems trace the flow of patients and medicines in Kosovo and Albanian healthcare institutions. [AFP]

Albania and Kosovo are implementing patient information systems to enhance hospitals' care, transparency and efficiency, and to provide a reliable database of information on patients.

Kosovo's health statistics system includes a patient registry that collects health-related data that can be reported to doctors, national and international stakeholders.

The registry enables healthcare and government institutions to analyse hospitals' management and performance, and to help identify the most frequent health problems, Faik Hoti, spokesperson of Kosovo's health ministry, told SETimes.

Kosovo's Health Ministry is also developing an integrated health information system in partnership with the Luxembourg government.

The system will enable healthcare institutions to maintain an electronic health card and will provide the ministry means to monitor their work. But there are additional issues affecting the healthcare system.

Kosovo's constitutional court temporarily suspended four articles of a law adopted last December that stipulate doctors should choose whether to work in public or private healthcare organisations beginning in 2014.

Working in both has been a very profitable means for doctors to recruit patients from public to private clinics -- a phenomenon throughout the region.

The legislation sparked a debate between the health ministry and healthcare unions.

"The law violates doctors' freedom to exercise their profession. It cannot improve the situation unless the ministry pushes for a simultaneous adoption of a law on health insurance," Blerim Syla, chairman of the Federation of Health Unions of Kosovo, told SETimes.

Hoti said the court will ultimately open the way for necessary reforms the ministry has committed to undertake.

"The ministry will provide evidence of the reasonableness of each article … which represents the interest of Kosovo's 2 million people who need much better health services than they have today," Hoti said.

Albania has initiated two information system modules since 2010 in Tirana's Mother Teresa University Hospital Centre. The first module charts the movement of patients and the second monitors and regulates the flow of medicines and medical materials.

"We are engaged in the implementation of the third phase of the project which will enable computerisation of each patient's clinical file," Redi Saliasi, public relations manager for the hospital's information system, told SETimes.

Saliasi said the system has raised the hospital staff's sense of responsibility by enabling them to follow information about patients while reducing the processing time.

It has also improved patient referrals from doctors to the hospital, preventing an influx of patients to the centre, which was a big problem in the past, Salasi added.

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"I hope we will not need to always keep documents for a year or two and explain [ourselves] to doctors ... More importantly, the long lines will likely be removed," Shyhrete Berisha, Pristina resident, told SETimes.

In Albania doctors are yet not obliged to stick to one sector.

"The reasons for this the experts at the health ministry provided are related to the healthcare workers' low wages," Alisa Demollari, spokeswoman for Albania's Health Ministry, told SETimes.

Demollari said the ministry expects to resolve the matter after it regulates the entire health labor market.

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