OPSI COVID-19 Innovative Response Tracker

Epidemiological Reporting System (EMS; a register according to the Epidemic Law §4)

Innovative response

The Epidemiological Reporting System (Epidemiologisches Meldesystem, EMS) is the register established by §4 of the Austrian Epidemic Law. It is the central public information system for handling the Corona crisis (see: https://info.gesundheitsministerium.at/BasisInformationen_en.pdf).

In an EU context, the system is unique in its comprehensiveness. It not only connects all levels of Austrian health administration. In addition, since 2014, all laboratories are obliged by law to report laboratory test results for all notifiable diseases in electronic form and without time lags. Laboratories can submit data to the EMS in an internationally standardized format via a HL7/CDA interface.

The EMS was designed by District Administration Authorities’ Public Medical Officers together with experts of Regional Health Directorates as well as the Health Ministry, also including expertise by the Robert-Koch-Institute, AGES and ELGA GmbH. The EMS is unique in offering the opportunity of real-time surveillance as well as providing a basis for daily situation appraisal and studies concerning simulation or risk group evaluation.

The possibility for citizens to access laboratory results (via the Citizen Card) is currently being developed in collaboration with BRZ and will be available shortly.

Specific issues addressed and anticipated impact

This notification process allows health authorities to keep up-to-date with epidemiological developments. Physicians can report data to the EMS via the eCard network and a web interface with authentication via Citizen Card/mobile phone signature. Depending on the relevance according to legal notification requirements, hospitals are also linked to the EMS system. Since 2010, the EMS system features web service-based data interfaces to the EU’s ECDC and WHO. Furthermore, it includes modules for disease outbreak management and contact tracing.

Organisations/institutions involved

Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection, Regional Health Directorates, Public Medical Officers at District Administration Authorities, Hospitals, office-based physicians, laboratories

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Level(s) of government:
  • National/Federal government

Issues being addressed:

  • Information and practice sharing (with public and/or internal)
  • Governance responses
  • Public service delivery under new circumstances