In one of the test regions, the e-prescription has been stopped for the time being, before it has even really started. The reason for this is data protection concerns.
Pilot project e-prescription
To test the e-prescription in Germany, a pilot project was launched in several regions. The test run was to take place on a large scale, primarily in Westphalia-Lippe. Step by step, more and more practices were to join in.
The e-prescription will then be accessible via an app on the cell phone. The app requires a PIN from the health insurer. The patient can obtain this via verification in person on site or via a Deutsche Post service.
Data protection concerns about the e-prescription
The Westphalia-Lippe test region aborted the roll-out of the e-prescription. The Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians of Westphalia-Lippe (KVWL) shares the concerns of the Federal Data Protection Commissioner. The latter feared that the planned form would lead to data misuse in pharmacies. Technical retrofits and updates in pharmacies are therefore necessary. However, these would probably take until mid-2023. This would take too long for the KVWL, so the project was cancelled.
"The decision of the data protection officer is a declaration of bankruptcy for digitization in healthcare in general and specifically in outpatient care. [...] We once again demand a purely digital solution - only then can a continuation of the roll-out by KVWL take place," says KVWL board member Thomas Müller.
The medical profession has also been skeptical so far. Although practices outside the test regions can also issue e-prescriptions on a voluntary basis, only around 525,000 e-prescriptions were filled this year. The number of analog prescriptions issued in Germany is usually around 500 million per year.
The Schleswig-Holstein test region has also already discontinued initial test runs. Here, the practices had concerns about the planned use of SMS and e-mail.
Gematik is disappointed
The Berlin-based company Gematik, which is responsible for the digitalization of the healthcare system, is disappointed. Nevertheless, it informs that the e-prescription can still be used nationwide. Even if the number of applications for the required PIN is very low so far, the paperless way has great advantages.
At a forthcoming meeting, Gematik plans to coordinate with the German Federal Ministry of Health and interest groups from the healthcare industry on what the next steps will be. According to its own statement, the goal remains to introduce the e-prescription across the board in 2023.
The e-prescription project keeps suffering defeats. Test phases are postponed or canceled, as is the mandatory introduction already planned for January 2022.
The concept itself could prove to be very beneficial, but there are still significant gaps in data protection law. For example, not least the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) called the digitization measure "flawed."
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