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Error which caused 80,000 German medical practices to lose their connection to telematics infrastructure has been resolved

A configuration error which led to 80,000 German medical practices losing their connection to the telematics system has now been resolved, according to Gematik, the society for telematics applications.

The telematics infrastructure (TI) is the backbone of the German digital healthcare system, supporting data communication between all stakeholders including insured patients, healthcare providers and insurers who pay for healthcare services.

Due to a deficiency in the security architecture, the insured master data system was partially disrupted from 27 May this year, meaning that for around eight weeks doctors were not able to transfer patient master data.

Around 130,000 affiliated medical practices and clinics in Germany use the TI to compare the master data of their patients with the health insurance companies via special security routers – called connectors. 

The fault was found to be caused by an incorrect entry in the Trust Service Status List (TSL), which enables the connectors to establish trustworthy connections to the TI servers. However, security settings in the connectors meant the issue could not be resolved remotely and the IT service provider had to make on-site visits to all the practices affected.

Gematik announced on 15 July that all affected connectors are once again in contact with the TI.

WHY IT MATTERS

Björn Kalweit, head of operations at Gematik, said they had learnt from the issue and gained new insight into how to either prevent functional failures, or identify and remedy them as soon as possible.

THE LARGER CONTEXT 

Founded in 2005, Gematik is the society for the eHealth card and related telematics applications, responsible for the construction, operation and maintenance of the TI. It was taken over by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) in 2019. 

Despite being one of the world’s largest healthcare markets, Germany has one of the lowest digitalisation levels among developed countries. Since coming into the office in March 2018, health minister Jens Spahn has been an outspoken supporter for the transformation of healthcare through digital technology. Last year Spahn, launched the Health Innovation Hub, in a step to drive digital transformation of the healthcare system. 

ON THE RECORD 

In a statement on the Gematik website, Kalweit said: “We’ve learned a lot in the past few weeks, but there is still a lot to do. We will expand our preventive measures even more and introduce central measures for detection in operational management. The legislator supports us in this.

“Our primary goal is for users to be sure that the applications and services are reliably available via the telematics infrastructure.”

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