Start of the e-prescription test phase
The electronic prescription is now being tested in everyday practical use during a test phase. The test started in the Berlin-Brandenburg model region on 1 July 2021. The aim of the test phase is to gather initial important practical knowledge about the interaction of all components in a limited region before the nationwide introduction of the e-prescription in the fourth quarter.
The doctors and pharmacists participating in the test will be supported in the prescription and redemption process by gematik and the Digital Health Future Region (ZDG). In a simulation of the technical process of redeeming a prescription, a first official e-prescription was successfully created by a doctor, displayed in the (gematik) e-prescription app of a statutory health insurance subscriber and retrieved by a pharmacy.
In principle, all interested doctors and pharmacists in Berlin-Brandenburg, doctors who offer video consultations and mail-order pharmacies will have the option of issuing or receiving e-prescriptions from July – provided they meet certain criteria.
Those who wish to register for the test phase must meet the following requirements:
- Pharmacy, surgery or patient must be in Berlin-Brandenburg; this also applies to mail-order companies and providers of video consultations.
- The connection to the telematics infrastructure, the electronic health professional card as well as necessary updates of the primary system for the use of the e-prescription must be available.
Statutory health insurance subscribers need an NFC-enabled electronic medical card eGK) and a PIN from their health insurance provider to use the e-prescription. The health insurance providers will continue to issue these in the coming quarters and notify their subscribers. Every subscriber who is interested can already contact his/her competent health insurance provider and apply for an NFC-enabled eGK and a PIN.
Dr Florian Hartge, COO of gematik, said, “In the current quarter, more and more surgeries, pharmacies and manufacturers of practice or pharmacy management systems in the focus region will be successively integrated into the system and the findings will be evaluated. The test phase will also be used to further increase awareness of the e-prescription together with all stakeholders.”
He went on to say, “All partners are working at full speed to provide the technical components and requirements for surgeries and pharmacies on time.”
As of 1 January 2022, the e-prescription will become mandatory for all prescriptions of prescription-only medicines for all people with statutory health insurance. The obligation does not apply to privately insured persons from 1 January 2022. Private insurance companies can then decide voluntarily to issue the eGK to their subscribers and to make the further preparations so that privately insured persons can use the e-prescription.
Available to everyone from 1 July 2021: gematik’s e-prescription app
In order to be able to receive and redeem prescriptions electronically, statutory health insurance subscribers need the e-prescription app from gematik – it is called “Das e-Rezept” in the app stores. Subscribers can download the app free of charge from the Google Play or Apple App Store and the Huawei AppGallery from 1 July 2021 and use it during the e-prescription introduction phase as of the fourth quarter or from 1 January 2022, when the e-prescription becomes mandatory.
COO Hartge said, “The app will then offer registered users the following functions right from the start: people with statutory health insurance can receive e-prescriptions from their doctor in the app and view information such as instructions for taking the medication and dosage. To redeem an e-prescription, either the prescription code can be opened in the app and presented at the pharmacy or the prescription can be sent to a pharmacy in advance.”
The prerequisite for this is an NFC-enabled smartphone (i.e. a smartphone with a contactless interface) with least the iOS 14 or Android 7 operating system. To log in to the app, you need an electronic medical card eGK) that supports NFC (recognisable by the six-digit access number under the Germany colours) and the corresponding PIN. Subscribers can order the medical card and PIN from their health insurance provider.
Hartge continued by saying, “The app can also be used without logging in with the medical card. In this case, subscribers can scan prescription codes from the printout, save them digitally and present them at a pharmacy.”
The test phase for the e-prescription ties in with the previous model project of the Digital Health Future Region (ZDG), an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Health. Participants in the previous model project are preferred partners. Further pharmacies and surgeries are being supported by the ZDG project in coordination with the Berlin Pharmacists’ Association (BAV), the Brandenburg Pharmacists’ Association (AVB), the German Pharmacists’ Association (DAV) and the respective software providers. In principle, all interested doctors and pharmacists in Berlin-Brandenburg will be able to issue or receive e-prescriptions from July (provided they meet certain criteria). For the requirements for participation and the registration form for the test phase for parties outside the focus region, see the gematik website (https://www.gematik.de/anwendungen/e-rezept/testphase/).
In future, all prescriptions in Germany, about 500 million per year, will be managed digitally via a central specialised service. For this purpose, gematik has commissioned IBM Deutschland GmbH with the development and operation of this specialist service for the e-prescription in the Europe-wide tender procedure for the introduction of the e-prescription (https://www.gematik.de/news/news/fachdienst-e-rezept-auftrag-geht-an-ibm/) and the Austrian company Research Industrial Systems Engineering (RISE) Forschungs-, Entwicklungs- und Großprojektberatung GmbH with the development and operation of the identity provider (IDP) (https://www.gematik.de/news/news/e-rezept-rise-erhaelt-zuschlag-fuer-identity-provider/). gematik has commissioned Deutsche Telekom AG to operate the hotline for user questions about the e-prescription app(https://www.gematik.de/news/news/service-angebot-fuer-versicherte-rund-ums-e-rezept/).