Worry about data misuse: e-prescriptions should only be redeemable with verification

The e-prescription should put an end to paperwork in prescriptions.

Worry about data misuse: e-prescriptions should only be redeemable with verification

The e-prescription should put an end to paperwork in prescriptions. However, due to concerns about misuse by criminals, the data protection officer Kelber is still against the idea that e-prescriptions should be redeemable without authentication. However, the e-prescription is not very popular anyway.

The Federal Data Protection Commissioner Ulrich Kelber is sticking to his veto against the plan to be able to redeem e-prescriptions in pharmacies without a PIN. Out of concern about abuse by criminal pharmacists, he had already rebuffed the plans in September. The responsible digitization company Gematik then asked whether the project would not be possible in a slimmed down version - and only in a limited group of pharmacies. Kelber now denied this because it "does not sufficiently reduce the risks for the insured".

The e-prescription is intended to put an end to the paperwork for prescriptions in the future; people with statutory health insurance receive around 500 million pink slips of paper every year. However, the digital project does not get off the ground, one setback follows the next. Although medical practices can issue the e-prescription on a voluntary basis, the response is low. A pilot region in Westphalia-Lippe should give new impetus to the introduction. But after data protection officer Kelber raised doubts about the legality, two regional medical organizations pulled the ripcord last week and suspended the introduction.

The pilot region started in September with 250 practices. But the digital project was a fairly analogue thing: only a few insured persons were able to use the necessary Gematik app, probably because the activation and verification procedure was too tedious. In most cases, the e-prescription was not transmitted digitally via the smartphone, but via a code printout. With the planned use of the insurance card, this irritating resemblance to the previous paperwork should come to an end. But then Kelber said no. This, in turn, angered the medical profession. Kelber's decision was "a declaration of bankruptcy for digitization in the healthcare system," said Thomas Müller, the board member of the Westphalia-Lippe Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians.

Kelber acknowledged this criticism with a shake of the head. He pointed out that trust in the e-prescription would suffer enormously as a result of possible data misuse. "New functionalities [...] must meet standard requirements for IT security and must not open the door to unauthorized access to the entire stock of e-prescriptions." The use of the insurance card is still possible, but with a PIN or another form of authentication. "I expect everyone involved to have a secure solution for picking up e-prescriptions by inserting the electronic health card by summer 2023."

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