Nationwide introductory phase for e-prescriptions postponed

Berlin (dpa) – If you want to get your prescription as a digital version, you have to be patient in most cities in Germany should participate voluntarily, for the time being put on hold – it should actually start on October 1st. This was announced by the centrally responsible company Gematik in Berlin, referring to a resolution by its shareholders’ meeting, in which representatives of doctors, pharmacies and health insurance companies sit in addition to the federal government. However, in the beginning only a few practices would have participated in the e-prescription anyway, so the change of plan has only few consequences.

In addition, the shareholders’ meeting decided that the test phase, which has been running since July, in some practices, clinics and pharmacies in Berlin and Brandenburg will be extended until the end of November. It is also certain that in January 2022 the mandatory introduction will take effect – then legally insured persons should receive QR codes for their prescriptions instead of pink slips of paper.

Technical options are missing

The reason for the plan change is that many medical practices do not yet have the technical ability to issue digital prescriptions: There is a lack of certified updates for their practice management systems. There are a large number of different digital administration systems in Germany’s medical practices, a total of about 130. In addition, too few health insurances are still participating in the Gematik e-prescription for a nationwide introduction to be promising. The situation should improve in the coming weeks.

Originally 50 medical practices and clinics as well as 120 Pharmacies test the application of the digital prescription – experts from those involved in the project were on site to check that everything was running smoothly and to identify possible weak points. But because there was a lack of software updates, there were fewer participants in the test phase than expected. Now, from the Gematik’s point of view, the knowledge gained is not yet sufficient and the “focus region Berlin-Brandenburg” will be continued.

QR code instead of paper

With the E- Prescription is to end the paperwork for prescriptions – currently those with statutory health insurance receive around 500 million prescriptions every year. From next year they should receive a QR code, either on their smartphones or – if they are not yet using the Gematik “E-Prescription” app – printed out. Access to the digital prescription via the app can be practical, for example if you have attended a video consultation and the doctor does not have to send a paper prescription by post afterwards. However, the paper recipes will not go away completely; for example, they should continue to be available for home visits. The digital recipe does not apply to privately insured persons.

Gematik boss Markus Leyck Dieken emphasized the advantages to the dpa. “17 other EU countries have already introduced the e-prescription, the population there has accepted it well.” Leyck Dieken made it clear that the e-prescription beginning 2022 will not be available everywhere at the push of a button, but will “gradually be made available across the board”. “Depending on the technical equipment, practices and pharmacies will be able to issue or redeem e-prescriptions over time.”

The project is not without controversy. Medical representatives recently called for a postponement. Many on-site pharmacists also fear that they could lose business to online shipping. The big online competitors DocMorris and Shop Apotheke, on the other hand, will smell the morning breeze when they will receive the prescriptions digitally in the future and the drug will reach the customer faster than before – the online retailers are currently still receiving the prescription by letter. However, many stationary pharmacies now also have an online pillar – they could even benefit from the e-prescription October the digital transmission of sick notes, the electronic certificates of incapacity for work (eAU). Doctors’ offices send these certificates to the health insurance companies – the employee no longer has to do this himself. In a transition period of three months, the practices can still rely on printouts, but from January digital sick leave will be mandatory – then they must meet the necessary technical standards and be connected to the KIM system. The abbreviation KIM stands for communication in medicine. The patient still receives a slip of paper, namely the sick leave for his employer. Only from July 2022 should the employers be involved in this so that the eAU can also be transmitted directly to them.

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