Telemedicine in Greece

Greece’s health and care system organisation

Healthcare in Greece is provided by the state through a universal health care system that is funded mostly through a system of national health insurance, although private health care is also an option available to a large percentage of the population.

Healthcare in Greece is provided by the National Healthcare Service (or ESY). The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is the main governmental agency for health policy, although there is some involvement of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance in the sector of welfare and social care.

Regional health authorities coordinate the health services on a regional level, with the administrator appointed by the Ministry and not by the local region’s elected authorities (although this policy is expected to change in the coming years).

Emergency, ambulance and air ambulance services in Greece are provided by the National Centre for Direct Aid, known mostly by the acronym EKAB.

Primary health care does not receive as much public attention as secondary and tertiary hospitals. Structural European Union (EU) funds have contributed to the renovation of old hospitals and the construction of new ones during the past decade, and have assisted the introduction of hospital information systems.

Recent years have seen many changes in the health system of Greece against the backdrop of cuts in public funding, such as the implementation of e-Prescriptions.

Greece’s health and care system financing

The Greek healthcare system combines public and private elements. Most hospitals and clinics are owned by the government. While some doctors are government employees, there are private hospitals and doctors who collect their fees from the government.

In Greece, the major insurance organisation is a public body (known by the acronym, EOPPY) with a large network of almost 5,000 private doctors working on contract for it. EOPPY also covers part of the costs of the public and private hospitals.

Private health insurances (similar to those in the United States of America) have also entered the market.

Greece’s telemedicine strategy and legislation

With regard to telemedicine, Greece’s national health authority has a Chronic Care Management strategy and a Health IT strategy, both adopted in 2008.

Greece has only basic legislation that deals specifically with telemedicine. There is no legislation that is considered an obstacle to the implementation of telemedicine services. More legislation is required to promote the further implementation of telemedicine services in Greece.

The Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity in July 2013 launched an effort to establish the Greek e-health ecosystem and the new “national e-health strategy 2020”, following the respective EU initiatives. For more information click here.