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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Wednesday, 22.05.2019, 10:07

Finnish digital prescriptions to become valid in Estonia from Monday

BC, Tallinn, 22.01.2019.Print version
Starting from Monday, Finns can start using their digital prescriptions to purchase medicinal products in Estonia, reported LETA/BNS.

Estonians will be given the opportunity to buy prescription drugs with a digital prescription in a pharmacy in Finland during 2019. With this, Estonia and Finland will become the two first countries in Europe to exchange prescription data between one another.

"Today will mark the start of the cross-border movement of electronic health data in Europe. Estonia and Finland as the first countries will launch a service that will enable to purchase medicinal products in another country with a digital prescription," Estonian Minister of Health and Labor Riina Sikkut said. "Agreements entered into in Europe will become real solutions that in the future will enable health data to move with people and through that ensure better quality healthcare to mlns of people in Europe who travel, study or work in another European country. This is what we were working in the name of during the Estonian presidency," she added.

According to the minister, the launch of the cross-border exchange of prescriptions is a historic milestone, but still only the first step on a long road. "Already in the next few years, we wish to enable the forwarding of other health data, too, so that when a problem emerges in a foreign country, doctors have access to an overview of the person's medical history," Sikkut added.

By Monday, Estonia has finished a solution that will enable Estonian pharmacists to ask in their information system for a digital prescription issued in another European country. The plan during 2019 is to create the possibility of purchasing medicinal products with a digital prescription issued in Estonia in a foreign country, which will be possible in the first stage in Finland, Cyprus, Greece and Portugal.

The cross-border exchange of prescription data is part of a project initiated in 2017, the aim of which is to ensure a better quality healthcare and availability of medicinal products to people in a foreign country thanks to data moving electronically. At that, the person will retain the possibility of restricting the movement of their health data between various countries.

The project foresees that by 2021, the cross-border forwarding of digital prescriptions and overviews of the medical histories of patients will be enabled across a data exchange platform managed by the European Commission. Altogether 23 countries in Europe have joined the project so far, the countries are also planning to carry out the necessary development over the next three years.

In Estonia, the cross-border prescription exchange service has been developed by the Health and Welfare Information Systems Center (TEHIK) in cooperation with the Agency of Medicines and the Estonian Health Insurance Fund. Tonis Jaagus, head of the health division of the e-services management department at TEHIK, said that this is a complex project as, when building up the data exchange, things that had to be taken into account included various countries' registers concerning medicinal products and prescriptions as well as the rules and characteristics of the medicinal products' market. "By now, the countries participating in the project have agreed on joint rules, the system has been created and the unique transnational data exchange service in the health field is open for people," Jaagus said.

TEHIK has cooperated closely with developers of pharmacy software, informed and trained pharmacists and by now, Estonian pharmacies are prepared to sell medicinal products on the basis of digital prescriptions issued in Finland. So far, it has been possible to purchase prescription medicinal products aboard only on the basis of a paper prescription. Over 3,000 medicinal products per year are bought in Estonia on the basis of a paper prescription issued in another European Union country.

The cross-border health data exchange project is being co-financed from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

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