The Electronic Prescription in European Perspective

With its focus on digitalising healthcare, SHOP APOTHEKE EUROPE closely follows the developments in the countries in which it is operational. One of the key themes of interest is the electronic prescription, which enables both the digital generation, transmission, and filling of a medical prescription via desktop or app.

This paperless option is an efficient and sustainable solution for patients to access their prescription and for doctors, pharmacies and health insurers to easily facilitate the patient in providing him/her with the required prescription medicine. Up to date, a real European electronic prescription does not exist. Some countries, such as Finland and Estonia, have a bilateral exchange, but due to differing national approaches dealing with prescriptions and the various actors involved, there is still a long way to go. In fact, some SHOP APOTHEKE EUROPE countries do not even have an e-prescription yet. Therefore, we are happy to give you an overview of the status of e-prescription in the SHOP APOTHEKE EUROPE countries.

In Austria, the e-prescription is currently in a pilot phase run in Kärnten. Nationwide roll-out is expected in 2022.

The Belgium government had implemented the e-prescription j8 years ago in 2013, but it has only become mandatory in 2020.

France still does not have an e-prescription. It had published a regulation in November 2020 stating that the e-prescription system shall come into force no later than 31 December 2024.

The e-prescription (eRx) in Germany is currently piloted, and will be implemented as of 1 January 2022. SAE is part of the pilot phase of the e-prescription. On 28 October 2021, SAE successfully received and processed the first e-prescriptions. A gradual adoption of the eRx will take place the coming months.

The e-prescription has been implemented at state level mandatorily (with exceptions) since 1 March 2016. All general practitioners´ prescriptions (with a few exceptions) have to be sent electronically.

Since 2014, the Netherlands has a mandatory e-prescription in place.

Switzerland does not have an electronic prescription and there are no plans yet to develop it any time soon.

Per country, different procedures are used as to how to deal with the e-prescription. Some solutions, for example, allow the doctor to generate a barcode during the creation of the prescription, with the help of which the pharmacist can identify the correct prescription and retrieve it from the central server. A model related to this is used in Germany. Other countries, on the other hand, rely on an alternative procedure: the e-prescription is stored on the servers of the card infrastructure of the respective electronic health card. At the pharmacy, the prescription can then be retrieved using a card reader. This solution however is not a very user-friendly solution for e-pharmacies, since they do not have a card reader in place; they only offer their services digitally.

Over time, SAE expects that in the long term any form of e-prescription, depending also on the liberalisation of the sale of Rx online, which is a national competence, will also take into account the e-pharmacy in its infrastructures for e-prescription.