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EU's ePrescriptions programme gets first roll out in Estonia

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EU's ePrescriptions programme gets first roll out in Estonia

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(BRUSSELS) - Finnish patients were for the first time able to go to a pharmacy in Estonia and retrieve medicines prescribed electronically by their doctor in Finland, in a trial under the EU ePrescriptions programme.

This is the first time patients in the European Union are able to use digital prescriptions issued by their home doctor when visiting a pharmacy in another EU country.

The initiative applies to all ePrescriptions prescribed in Finland and to the Estonian pharmacies that have signed the agreement. For the first time, ePrescriptions are visible electronically to participating pharmacists in the receiving country via the new eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure, without the patient having to provide a written prescription.

Congratulating Finland and Estonia on "showing the path in eHealth cooperation between states", the EU's Digital Single Market vice-president Andrus Ansip said he hoped other countries would follow soon.

Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis added: "Sharing ePrescriptions and Patient Summaries will be crucial for patient safety as it can help doctors to better understand a foreign patient's medical history and can reduce the risks of incorrect medication and the costs of duplicate tests." He said the Commission would continue to support the expansion of exchanges across the EU.

EU institutions adopted Directive 2011/24 in 2011, to ensures continuity of care for European citizens across borders. The directive enables Member States to exchange health data in a secure, efficient and interoperable way. The following cross-border health services are now being progressively introduced in all EU Member States:

1) ePrescription and eDispensation allow any EU citizen to retrieve his/her medication in a pharmacy located in another EU Member State, thanks to the electronic transfer of their prescription from his/her country of residence to the country of travel. The country of residence is then informed about the retrieved medicine in the visited country;

2) Patient Summaries provide background information on important health-related aspects such as allergies, current medication, previous illness, surgeries, etc., making it digitally accessible in case of a medical (emergency) visit in another country. It is an abstract of a larger collection of health data called the European Health Record. To make this a reality, the Commission will soon be presenting a Recommendation on the European Electronic Health Record Exchange Format.

Data protection rules are strictly observed and patients will have to provide their consent before these services are accessed.

Both services were made possible thanks to the eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure which connects the eHealth national services, allowing them to exchange health data, and which is funded by the European Commission's Connecting Europe Facility.

22 Member States are part of the eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure and are expected to exchange ePrescriptions and Patient Summaries by the end of 2021. 10 Member States (Finland, Estonia, Czechia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Croatia, Malta, Cyprus, Greece and Belgium) may start these exchanges by the end of 2019.

The eHealth Network (the body of eHealth authorities in the EU) has recently given the green light to Finland and Estonia to start exchanging ePrescriptions and to Czechia and Luxembourg to receive Patient Summaries of foreign citizens.

eHealth : Digital health and care


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