First Cross-Border E-Prescriptions in Europe

EU Commission announced first digital processing of e-prescriptions issued in one country but filled in another EU country. Finland and Estonia leading from the front.

As of 21 January 2019, Finnish patients are able to fill prescriptions – issued by their GP based in Finland – at pharmacies in Estonia. It is no longer necessary to submit a hardcopy prescription during this process. The initiative is part of the EU Digital Health and Care Strategy and applies to all electronic prescriptions from Finnish and Estonian pharmacies that signed the agreement. The data exchange takes place via the EU-funded digital e-health service structure, which connects national e-health services.

Germany lagging behind

A total of 22 Member States are involved in the digital infrastructure and are expected to exchange electronic prescriptions and patient records from the end of 2021 onwards. According to the Commission, ten Member States (Finland, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Portugal, Croatia, Malta, Cyprus, Greece and Belgium) may begin this exchange as early as the end of 2019. In Germany it will probably take longer. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn plans to introduce the E-prescription by 2020 and the Electronic Health Record by 2021.

Background is the EU Directive 2011/24 / EU which was adopted in 2011 and which aims to facilitate the cross-border treatment of European citizens as well as enabling Member States to exchange health data securely. Since then, cross-border digital health services – most notably e-prescriptions and the electronic healthcare record – have gradually been introduced in all EU Member States. The EU’s E-Health Network has recently been given the go-ahead for the exchange of electronic prescriptions between Finland and Estonia and the exchange of medical records between the Czech Republic and Luxembourg.

Source: Pharmazeutische Zeitung

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