With the issuing of the Directive 2005/36 on the recognition of professional qualifications, an informal group of competent authorities for the 5 health professions impacted by the Directive (dental surgeons, doctors, midwives, nurses and pharmacists) from 15 EU State Members was established in 2006.
Continuous relationships with the European Parliament and European Commission (DG Employment, Market, Information Society mainly), with EU projects ( Netcards, IMI, HPCB, then epSOS, Calliope, STORK, TAS3…), with European associations (PGEU, FEDCAR, CPME, Ehtel...) facilitate the preparation and the realization of the HPRO Card work (2007-2010).
The project was co-financed by the European Commission during 2007-2009 and gathered:
7 partners of origin and 20 support members from 13 States Members (AT, BE, BG, CZ, ES, FR, HU, IT, LU, PL, SK, SE, UK). Other countries also joined the working groups (CH, DE, EE, GR, MT, NO, RO, SI).
The “competent authorities” (as defined in the Directive) were studied:
- 893 competent authorities were identified. They have various statuses: Professional Organisations as Chambers and Professional Associations, Ministry of Health, State Agencies or even Institutions for Health Insurance. They are organized at the national (e.g. Sweden), regional (e.g. Spain) or local level (e.g. Italy).
- The number of health professionals in Europe considering the HPRO Card studies is very different from those of World Health Organization (WHO) which is nearly 5.777.700. This figure is subject to reevaluation due to different definitions on health professionals’ status (active/not active, retired…).
Existing health professional cards were identified:
- Some countries have no card. Some have paper or plastic cards (e.g. Poland issues a professional passport and Luxemburg has a paper certificate).
- In 12 countries or regions 1.300.000 health professionals are certified by electronic cards. And at least 8 countries are preparing their professional cards.
- We can expect that there will be over 2 million cards in a close future; this is within 1 or 2 years. The Directive 2005/36/EC expressed the potential interest of a European Professional Card. Today, we can confirm the health professional smartcards development trend and we can foresee 20% of deployment in 2013 when this directive will be updated.
The interoperability between different health professional authentication systems on 4 different levels (political, organisational, semantic and technical levels) were studied:
- Technical questionnaire (with questions from CEN and epSOS): 66 different questions. 12 EU Member States answered on those questions. This represents 23 different systems.
- Health Professional databases and repositories in different countries and for different professions.
- 4 concrete demonstrators were developed to help our study (3 different cards on a same workstation, access to medical data abroad in Spain and in Belgium, proof of the authenticity of the card).