E-prescription: The prescription will be electronic: when will the e-prescription be introduced?

The e-prescription was actually supposed to arrive on January 1, but then the start was postponed. How to proceed with the project.

So far, everyone who has been prescribed a medicine at the doctor’s surgery has received a pink prescription on paper. This is soon history. The recipe will be electronic. Throughout Germany, the paper prescription will be replaced by an e-prescription. The new e-prescription was supposed to start on January 1, but the introduction has been postponed due to dental problems.

That the e-prescription will be taken for granted, however. Pharmacies, clinics and healthcare create the conditions for this. The former CDU health minister still had to switch to the e-prescription Jens Spahn set the course. His digital flagship project is still a construction site. Now the introduction should fall during the SPD minister Karl Lauterbach’s term.

The e-prescription is stored on a central server

With the e-prescription, a patient receives their medication as before, but there are some differences in the processes. As before, the e-prescription is issued by the doctor. The exercise then saves it – and it is new – on a central, nationwide server, ie in a database. To see what has been printed, the patient can call and see the prescription using an app on their smartphone. A digital key ensures that only you have access. The patient then goes to the pharmacy with his e-prescription and shows it, for example, on his smartphone. The pharmacist retrieves the prescription from the central server and gives the medicine to the customer.

QR code instead of paper: The e-recipe is intended to put a stop to the paper economy in recipes.

Photo: Mohssen Assanimoghaddam, dpa

If you do not have a smartphone, you can get a paper printout at the doctor’s surgery as before: The printout contains a so-called QR code, a square barcode like the one you see on newer train tickets. The code can be scanned at the pharmacy, the pharmacist can then access the e-prescription and hand over the medicine. This is how Gematiken describes the process – the National Health Service, which is responsible for digitalisation in the area.

Many pathways are eliminated for patients

The e-prescription brings a number of benefits to patients, says Thomas Metz, spokesman for the Bavarian Pharmacists’ Association. An example: You have been receiving the same medicine for high blood pressure for several years. Instead of driving 10 to 15 kilometers from the city to the doctor’s office and picking up a new paper prescription, in the future the practice will be able to send the e-prescription directly to the smartphone. Many paths and driving can therefore be superfluous. The patient can also send the e-prescription electronically to the pharmacy of his or her choice, which orders the medicine.

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For the e-prescription, customers need a modern smartphone that is NFC-enabled, ie transmits data without contact. In addition, an application installed on the smartphone is required. The app for managing e-prescriptions is called “Das E-Rezept” and is available for free in all app stores, reports the Federal Ministry of Health. But what if you do not have a smartphone? “There will also be other solutions for a long transition period, such as a paper printout,” said Metz spokeswoman Metz.

E-prescription: At the pharmacy, the smartphone replaces the paper printout.

Photo: Mohssen Assanimoghaddam, dpa

The idea for the e-prescription is well received at pharmacies: “I look forward to it”, says pharmacist Dr. Matthias Schneider, who runs three other pharmacies in addition to Schwaben Apotheke in Dillingen. Not only because customers can save a lot with the e-recipe. The processes at pharmacies will also be simpler, Schneider explains: So far, pharmacies have collected all prescriptions that have been redeemed and sent them in bundles to a service provider once or twice a month. In data centers, the prescriptions are scanned, digitized, checked and regulated with the health insurance companies. Only then will the pharmacy get the money transferred – a maximum of 13 months later. “If a mistake has been made, health insurance may not pay in the end,” says Schneider. For example, pharmacies may only dispense certain medicines due to discount agreements with the cash registers. Schneider hopes that the e-recipe will work more smoothly. “Typos and typos no longer occur,” he says. There is no longer a need to send batches of prescriptions to data centers.

The Ministry of Health wants more test data before it starts

Nevertheless, the nationwide introduction of the e-prescription has been postponed until further notice. So far, doctors, patients and pharmacies have tested the e-prescription in pilot regions, the number of redeemed e-prescriptions was low. “Insufficient data was generated in the test,” said pharmacy spokesman Thomas Metz. The Bavarian Pharmacy Association is happy that the introduction will come later. There was concern that the health insurance companies would eventually refuse to invoice the patient for formal reasons. “The introduction has been broken over the knee, it’s good to take more time,” agrees Dillinger pharmacist Matthias Schneider.

The pink paper recipes are soon history.

Photo: Alexander Kaya

Apparently there is still a lack of technical equipment: “Preparations with the insufficient number of participants in the test phase have shown that the necessary technical systems are not yet available across the board,” reports the Federal Ministry of Health on the question of our editors. “Therefore, the controlled test and pilot phase will continue and be expanded step by step.” The decisive factor for the introduction is “the rapid increase in the level of technical equipment in clinics, hospitals and pharmacies”.

The authority responsible for the technical side also believes that more experience is needed before it can be introduced nationwide: “In this way, at least 30,000 e-prescriptions should be successfully invoiced”, reports Gematik. “Furthermore, the health insurance companies have guaranteed close cooperation with pharmacies so that technical errors in invoicing do not lead to reimbursement, ie the refusal of supplements or reimbursement of medicines that have already been dispensed by the pharmacist.”

Pharmacist Matthias Schneider is not worried that the e-prescription will also strengthen online transmission instead of local pharmacies. – It is clear that there will be competition, he says. “But we are on site and have a delivery service that has been built up over decades,” he says, giving an example: “A drug that is ordered at 2 pm is already available at 6 pm and can be sent from the pharmacy to the patient’s home if desired. “

In some cases, patients will no longer have to leave the house in the future: they consult with the doctor during the video consultation, the e-prescription comes on the smartphone, the patient sends it electronically to the pharmacy, where it can be picked up or taken home.

Pharmacist Matthias Schneider does not see the fact that many older people do not yet have a smartphone as an obstacle in the medium term. There is also the possibility of having an e-prescription printed. On the other hand, many around 60 already have smartphones and in ten years – when they are 70 years old – they will use them as a matter of course.

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