E-prescription: preparations are on schedule

Test phase starts from July 2021 with focus region and subsequent implementation phase

The e-prescription for Germany is progressing well and according to plan: step by step, the software solutions in all doctors’ surgeries, hospitals and pharmacies nationwide are being made ready in the second half of 2021 for the launch of the electronic prescription on 1 January 2022. In the third quarter of 2021, selected doctors, pharmacists and patients in the Berlin-Brandenburg focus region will be shown the ropes with the new e-prescription prescribing and redeeming process. The knowledge gained from the test phase in the third quarter can be continuously integrated into the subsequent Germany-wide introductory phase in the fourth quarter. gematik CEO Dr Markus Leyck Dieken said, “The procedure is the same as the one we chose for the test and introduction phase of the electronic patient file. To enable us to properly scale this practical experience with the e-prescription, we again opted for a test phase when introducing this digital application. The gematik e-prescription app will be available on 1 July as scheduled. Most pharmacists will have already installed their software in July. There will be a rapid roll-out of the software required by surgeries during Q3/Q4.”

After all: the switch to the e-prescription is much more than a simple switch from paper format to digital code: “The e-prescription represents a fundamental change in the medical care of the population. It touches almost everyone’s everyday lives at one time or another: German doctors issue a whole 500 million paper prescriptions a year. Around 73 million German citizens are covered by statutory health insurance and are familiar with the ‘pink slip’,” said Leyck Dieken, emphasising the enormous scale of the change. The gematik CEO continued by saying, “They will all use the e-prescription for their pharmacy-only medicines instead of the slip in the future. This structural change needs a careful, measured approach.”

After all, this is not “just any app”, but a “once in a lifetime” project: in addition to all participating doctors in medical care accredited by statutory health insurance providers in Germany, almost 19,000 bricks-and-mortar and other online pharmacies must also be brought on board.

The e-prescription as a symbol of structural change and networking

Digitalisation in healthcare is becoming increasingly tangible to every patient in Germany every day – in the truest sense of the word: whereas patients were previously given the prescription for a pharmacy-only medication in the form of a piece of paper, in future it will be stored digitally and securely in the telematics infrastructure and can be redeemed with the help of a prescription code in the app. Industry partners provide the technical facilitation of software and hardware for the use of the telematics infrastructure.   

gematik has developed the e-prescription app, which can be used within the framework of this technical infrastructure from July 2021, to manage and redeem prescriptions digitally. From January 2022, the e-prescription will be the only valid format for prescriptions for pharmacy-only medications.

Digitalisation makes the lines of communication more convenient, efficient and flexible, but no less secure. The electronic prescription can also be used without a smartphone: if a patient does not want to use the e-prescription app, the doctor can alternatively print out the prescription code.