With an e-prescription, patients will no longer have to redeem their medicine on a piece of paper, but only show a QR code. It was supposed to start across the board in January, but the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) postponed the start at the end of December. The test phase should initially continue, because in December only 42 e-prescriptions had been issued. In addition, there was a lack of technical infrastructure, both for doctors and in pharmacies.
But how long should the test phase last? This issue was also discussed in the Bundestag’s Committee on Petitions. Petra Reis-Berkowicz, chair of the representative assembly of the Bavarian Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, called for a 12-month test phase for the e-prescription last year – before the start was postponed. The Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians represents the interests of physicians and psychotherapists who care for patients with statutory health insurance. More than 50,000 people signed her petition.
Social Democrat Sabine Dittmar, parliamentary secretary of state at BMG, told the committee that the extension of the test phase was open. A rebuild should take place when the technical requirements are met.
No beta tests in live operation
Gematik is responsible for the technical infrastructure around e-prescriptions. The authority formulated specific goals at the end of January: 30,000 e-prescriptions must be “successfully invoiced” in the test phase. The current status can be tracked with daily updated figures. On February 16, 1,530 prescriptions were redeemed. By comparison, about half a billion paper prescriptions were redeemed at pharmacies throughout Germany by 2020.
Reis-Berkowicz is apparently about more than just introducing the e-recipe. Their presentation shows that innovations are clearly not tested enough: “With the mandatory introduction of the applications mentioned within the deadline, all doctor’s surgeries, pharmacies, statutory health insurance companies and ultimately all with statutory health insurance will become guinea pigs in the care system as beta testers in live operation.” , it says in the appeal.
With its initial difficulties, the e-prescription is not an isolated case. It also shows other projects in the field of health digitization: legal concerns about electronic patient records have been erased and implementation has been slow. Repeated IT security issues. And recently, there was the problem with the electronic health card: technical problems caused by electrostatic charges paralyzed some of IT in practice. Former Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) was apparently in a hurry to digitize healthcare.