Croatia has become the fifth country ready for the cross-border exchange of ePrescriptions with other EU member states. From this summer, Croatian patients will be able to collect medication prescribed in their home country while travelling in Finland, Estonia, Luxembourg and Czechia.
In January, Finland and Estonia became the first live participants in the eHealth Network policy, which aims to have 22 member states participating by 2021. Luxembourg and Czechia have since been declared ‘ready’ by the eHealth Network, and they were joined by Croatia following a positive vote of the eHealth Member State Expert Group (eHMSEG) on 11 March. Portugal, Malta, Cyprus and Greece are expected to follow by the end of the year.
Participating countries will also be able to exchange patient summaries as the scheme develops during the coming months.
WHAT’S THE IMPACT
More than 1,000 Finnish patients travelling in Estonia have collected their prescriptions from local pharmacies since the exchange became active on 21 January.
Many more European citizens will benefit as the scheme – rooted in the adoption of Directive 2011/24, which aims to ensure continuity of patient care across EU borders – is rolled out progressively across all member states.
WHAT’S THE TREND
Mariya Gabriel, commissioner for digital economy and society said that the exchange of ePrescriptions and international patient summaries can save lives in emergency situations.
These summaries provide digitally accessible background information on important health-related topics, like allergies, current medication, previous illnesses and surgeries, in case of medical emergencies when citizens are visiting another EU country.
They contain background information on key aspects of the patient’s health and are an abstract of a larger collection of health data, the European Health Record. This is the foundation of the Commission’s long-term goal of establishing a standards-based European Electronic Health Record Exchange Format – the next step in its ambitious eHealth reform vision.
Both the ePrescription and patient summary services are enabled by the eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure, which connects the eHealth national services, allowing them to exchange health data through the setting-up of eHealth National Contact Points.
ON THE RECORD
“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,” said commissioner for health and food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis.
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