Birth certificate, registration form – the digital revolution is coming to Austria

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One hundred seventeen measures and 36 digitization principles – with the Digital Austria Act (DAA), Austria is embarking on a new path of digitization.

Especially in an economically challenging time, the opportunities of digitization for value creation, jobs, health and quality of life must be exploited. In this regard, Digitalization State Secretary Florian Tursky (ÖVP) and Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Grüne) presented the federal government’s digital work program, the Digital Austria Act, which was passed in the Council of Ministers. With it, the federal government defines Austria’s goals and principles of digitization.

“The federal government’s digital package, which consists of 117 measures and 36 digitization principles, sets the course for the future. It is important to me to create digitization with benefits in the future,” says State Secretary for Digitization Florian Tursky. “The Digital Austria Act is the federal government’s digital work program to ensure that all members of the federal government work together in the right digital direction. The priorities of the Digital Austria Act are cross-departmental and affect all members of the federal government and all areas of people’s lives.”

“Digital solutions will be adopted if they offer real benefits for people and if people have confidence in data protection and data security. In the health sector in particular, there are completely new opportunities. Digital health advice must be as easy as shopping online. Then we can also use it to relieve the burden on doctors’ offices and hospitals,” Social Affairs and Health Minister Johannes Rauch are convinced.

Digitization will be redesigned in Austria, considering the applicable data protection principles and barrier-free accessibility. Obstacles to digitization are to be identified and removed. One example of this is the goal of enabling people in Austria to access their documents and evidence free of charge via the Digital Office. “We are finally abolishing stamp stamps: In the future, personal proofs such as registration information, criminal record excerpts, marriage or birth certificates will be available free of charge via the digital office,” summarize Tursky and Rauch.

Several key points were presented at the DAA. One crucial aspect is the so-called “Digi-Check,” which checks whether laws are suitable for digitization when they are reviewed. There is also a focus on further developing the Digital Office into an intelligent government that enables easy and mobile access to all federal administrative services.

“We asked ourselves: What should digitization look like for Austrians? My answer is: more convenient, simpler, more secure while complying with the applicable data protection principles and taking barrier-free accessibility into account. To achieve this, we need to identify and eliminate barriers to digitization. In addition, laws should be suitable for digitization. In the future, conducting a so-called Digi-Check for new laws will be mandatory before they are reviewed,” continues Tursky. The government plans to use artificial intelligence (AI) responsibly and strengthen trust in this technology. Meaningful regulation at the European level through the AI Act and at the national level through a future AI authority should drive innovation. The Digital Austria Act sets digital priorities in the following areas, among others:

People in Austria should be able to view all their health data securely and digitally at a glance. For this reason, the federal government is working on further developing the electronic health record (ELGA). In addition to a clear and precise legal basis for processing health data, digital health applications are to be expanded. If the relevant prerequisites are met, then, for example, certain health apps should be able to be prescribed by the doctor, and the data obtained should be stored in the user’s electronic health record on request – if this makes technical sense.

Social and Health Minister Johannes Rauch: “A quick initial clarification on the phone or via chat, access to diagnoses, lab results, X-rays and the like, the ability to track changes over years – these are just some of the possible applications. Over the next few years, we will significantly expand the ELGA electronic health record and the 1450 health hotline. Everyone in Austria will benefit from this.”

Besides the best digital infrastructure, technological innovation is useless if the population cannot use it. For the digital transformation to be successful for Austria, it needs a digitally competent population. The federal government supports all measures that help build digital skills.

The digital competence offensive launched at the beginning of the year is being intensively continued to make as many people in Austria as possible digitally fit by 2030. Only in this way can the opportunities of digitization be exploited by everyone. “The DAA is another step on the way to our common goal. Namely, to maintain and expand prosperity and security through digitization,” concludes Tursky.

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