Finland-Estonia eHealth collaboration for cross-border usage of ePrescription

Finland-Estonia eHealth collaboration

Finland-Estonia eHealth collaboration for cross-border usage of ePrescription

The Finland patients can use digital prescriptions issued by their home doctor when visiting a pharmacy in the country of Estonia.

Now, the first EU patients can use digital prescriptions to get medications provided by their doctor from their home country, when visiting a pharmacy in another EU country. It means patients from Finland can go to a pharmacy in Estonia and get the medication prescribed electronically by their doctor in Finland.

This initiative is applicable to all ePrescriptions prescribed in Finland and to the Estonian pharmacies or drug stores that have signed the agreement. The uniqueness of this initiative is that the participating pharmacists can see the ePrescriptions in electronic form in their receiving country through the new eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure and that too without waiting for the patient to provide a written prescription.

The objective behind this new development is to empower patients by providing access to their health data and making sure that their medical care continues.

E-Prescribing is rising swiftly, and not just because there have been considerable improvements in the technology, but also because of the significant benefits, it offers for both patients and physicians. E-Prescribing eradicates the possibility of handwriting errors or illegibility and provides both physician and pharmacist access to a patient’s prescription history so as to diminish the chance of dispensing the wrong drug to the patient.

In addition, with e-prescription, physicians can keep track of how many controlled substance prescriptions has been received by a patient, which reduces the possibility of over-prescribing or doctor shopping. Doctor shopping is the practice of going to see several physicians in order to get several prescriptions for otherwise prohibited drugs. Moreover, it can also be very valuable in improving medication adherence.

In 2011, the European institutions agreed on Directive 2011/24 which makes sure that the European citizens’ medical care will continue even across the borders. The directive offers the possibility for the Member States to exchange health data in a safe, protected, effectual and interoperable manner.

Given below are the cross-border health services that are now being gradually introduced in all EU Member States:

  • ePrescription and eDispensation allow any EU citizen to get his or her medication from a pharmacy which is located in another EU Member State, owing to the electronic transfer of their prescription from their home country to the country where they are travelling. Then the country where the patient is travelling let the home country of the patient know that the medicine has been retrieved the medication.
  • Patients’ synopses provide background information regarding health-related aspects of the patient such as allergies, existing medication, past diseases or ailments, surgeries, and so on. All these data are digitally accessible in case the patient has to face a medical emergency while visiting another country. It is an abstract of a greater assemblage of health data recognized as the European Health Record. To make this inventiveness a reality, the Commission will soon be offering a Recommendation on the European Electronic Health Record Exchange Format.

The rules concerning the protection of data are observed with a strict authority and patients will have to provide their consent before accessing these services.

It was because of the eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure that both services became a possibility and it connects the eHealth national services, which allows them to exchange health data, and which is supported (monetarily) by the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility.

22 member States, part of the eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure, are expected to exchange ePrescriptions and Patient Summaries by 2021 end. The eHealth Network has recently given the consent to Finland and Estonia to start exchanging ePrescriptions and to Czechia and Luxembourg to have Patient Summaries of foreign citizens.

Image credit: www.istockphoto.com

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