There are currently 501 hospitals and about 20,000 clinics in Taiwan. The National Health Insurance (NHI) system, which is operated by the NHI Administration, uses a single-payer system and covers 99.9% of the nation's total population of 23,000,000. Taiwan's NHI provides people with a high degree of freedom in choosing their medical care options. However, there is the potential concern that the available medical resources will be overused. The number of doctor consultations per person per year is about 15. Duplication of laboratory tests and prescriptions are not rare either. Building an electronic medical record exchange system is a good method of solving these problems and of improving continuity in health care. In November 2009, Taiwan's Executive Yuan passed the 'Plan for accelerating the implementation of electronic medical record systems in medical institutions' (2010-2012; a 3-year plan). According to this plan, a patient can, at any hospital in Taiwan, by using his/her health insurance IC card and physician's medical professional IC card, upon signing a written agreement, retrieve all important medical records for the past 6 months from other participating hospitals. The focus of this plan is to establish the National Electronic Medical Record Exchange Centre (EEC). A hospital's information system will be connected to the EEC through an electronic medical record (EMR) gateway. The hospital will convert the medical records for the past 6 months in its EMR system into standardized files and save them on the EMR gateway. The most important functions of the EEC are to generate an index of all the XML files on the EMR gateways of all hospitals, and to provide search and retrieval services for hospitals and clinics. The EEC provides four standard inter-institution EMR retrieval services covering medical imaging reports, laboratory test reports, discharge summaries, and outpatient records. In this system, we adopted the Health Level 7 (HL7) Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) standards to generate clinical documents and Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) Cross-enterprise Document Sharing (XDS) profile for the communication infrastructure.By December of 2014, the number of hospitals that provide an inter-institution EMR exchange service had reached 321. Hospitals that had not joined the service were all smaller ones with less than 100 beds.Inter-institution EMR exchange can make it much easier for people to access their own medical records, reduce the waste of medical resources, and improve the quality of medical care. The implementation of an inter-institution EMR exchange system faces many challenges. This article provides Taiwan's experiences as a reference.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-20
Number of pages7
JournalComputer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Electronic medical record
  • Health information exchange
  • Health smart card
  • National health insurance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Software
  • Health Informatics


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