Electronic Referrals In Greece: When Common Sense Becomes Innovation

Athens, Greece –The adoption of e-health systems in Greece is happening at an exceptionally slow pace. Hand-written referral notes were the sole tool available to physicians to order diagnostic exams for their patients, on the basis of which payers reimbursed diagnostic centers. One of the major health funds, the Public Servants’ Healthcare Organization was faced with a dramatic increase in its diagnostic exams budget: from €155,494,142.8 in 2003 to €297,051,270.7 in 2009, whilst the number of insured members remained stable.

The implementation of the pilot electronic referral project at the Public Servants’ Health Care Organization, which insures 1.5 million members, was one of the first attempts to control these expenditures and improve health care services, in a transparent and fair manner.

The replacement of hand-written referrals with an electronic system resulted in a 32% cost saving for the organization and contributed to the decrease in the number and the rationalization of the type of diagnostic exams ordered.

Assistant Professor, Kyriakos Souliotis, PhD, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Peloponnese, says:”Pharmaceutical spending was not the only culprit of excess public spending in health care in Greece. The implementation of real-time monitoring of referrals (“e-diagnosis”) delivered over 30% in savings in diagnostic tests’ expenditure.”

The full study of the pilot electronic referral project, “Transforming Public Servants’ Health Care Organization in Greece through the Implementation of an Electronic Referral Project,” is published in Value in Health Regional Issues.


Value in Health Regional Issues  (ISSN 2212-1099) is a scientific journal that encourages and enhances the science of pharmacoeconomic/health economic and health outcomes research and its use in health care decisions. The journal is published up to three times a year with one issue focusing on the Asia region, one issue focusing on the Latin America region, and one issue focusing on the Central & Eastern Europe, Western Asia and Africa regions.

The International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) is a nonprofit, international, educational and scientific organization that strives to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of health care resource use to improve health.

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