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E-prescriptions in Switzerland: How can I use it as a healthcare professional?

Published on 28/06/2024

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Digitalization in the Swiss healthcare system is steadily increasing, and e-prescription is a central component of this development. It promises to simplify the everyday lives of doctors and patients while also increasing security. But what exactly does the term “e-prescription” mean, and how can it be implemented in practice? We answer your most important questions here.

 

What exactly is an e-prescription?

Medical prescriptions in Switzerland are traditionally issued in paper form. The doctor writes the prescription by hand or prints it out and gives it to the patient, who can then redeem it at a pharmacy.

However, this process has some disadvantages, such as the possibility of reading errors, the loss of prescriptions, or the need for patients to physically take the prescription to the pharmacy.

The e-prescription, or electronic prescription, is a digital version of the traditional paper prescription. It allows doctors to issue prescriptions electronically and transmit them to pharmacies, and it offers patients the option of saving the prescription on their smartphone or printing it out.

Some core functions of the e-prescription

  • Integration into existing practice software: The e-prescription can be created directly in the familiar software environment.
  • Security and data protection: Electronic signatures and technical copy protection prevent forgery and misuse.
  • Convenience for patients: The prescription can be saved on the smartphone or printed out.
  • Drug interaction check: Any drug interactions can be recognised more quickly.
  • Reminder to take medication: The e-prescription can also serve as a reminder together with the e-medication and in combination with the EPD.

 

When will the e-prescription be available?

Switzerland has made significant progress in the implementation of e-prescriptions. FMH and Pharmasuisse have been working on a national e-prescription solution since May 2022, which is already in the pilot phase. The e-prescription Switzerland service is also available and is accepted in various pharmacies. The technology enables doctors to issue prescriptions digitally and pharmacies to record and validate them easily. By the end of 2024, the goal is for all pharmacies in Switzerland to accept e-prescriptions.

Widespread acceptance: the service is accepted in all Amavita, Sun Store and Coop Vitality pharmacies (as at March 2023).

 

How do I create an e-prescription for my patients?

Creating an e-prescription is simple and integrated into existing practice processes. Here are the steps in detail:

  1. Selection of the medication: Select the desired medication in the practice software.
  2. Entering the patient data: Enter the patient’s relevant information, including dosage and instructions.
  3. Signature: Sign the prescription with the personal eID, e.g. with HIN identity.
  4. Transmission: The prescription can be sent to the patient digitally or handed over as a printout with a QR code.

 

What are the technical requirements?

In order to use e-prescriptions in your practice, a number of technical requirements must be met:

  1. Integration into the practice software: the software must support the creation of e-prescriptions.
  2. Security standards: The use of HIN Sign or similar security mechanisms is required.
  3. Barcode scanner in the pharmacy: As the e-prescription works with a QR code, a barcode scanner should be installed in the pharmacy where your patient is registered.

 

Advantages for doctors and patients

The e-prescription not only offers the possibility of managing prescriptions electronically, but also brings with it a number of advantages that make everyday life much easier for doctors and patients.

 

For patients: More comfort and control

  • No more waiting times and paperwork: the e-prescription can be saved in an app, eliminating many visits to the doctor. Follow-up prescriptions can be transmitted digitally and lost prescriptions are a thing of the past.
  • Quick access to pharmacies: The app can include a pharmacy directory that displays opening hours and special services so that patients can find a pharmacy near them.
  • Easier access to medication: The e-prescription can be sent directly to the pharmacy to check availability or pre-order medication. This simplifies collection or delivery.
  • Family-friendly functions: With a family function, patients can also redeem prescriptions and collect medication for relatives or neighbours.

 

For doctors: Efficiency and integration

  • Faster practice processes: The e-prescription can be created in the practice management system with just a few clicks and transmitted electronically. The qualified electronic signature replaces the manual signature, saving doctors time.
  • Digital transmission of follow-up prescriptions: Reduces patient traffic in the practice and relieves the burden on staff.
  • Integrated patient data management: Medication information is directly available and can be transferred to the electronic patient file, facilitating collaboration between different practitioners.
  • Increased medication safety: The digital recording of medication information enables interactions to be recognised more quickly in the pharmacy.
  • Support for new forms of treatment: The e-prescription enables contactless transmission after a video consultation and thus supports new forms of care such as remote treatment.

 Tips for introducing the e-prescription in your practice

  • Find out about the technical requirements and choose a suitable software solution.
  • Train your staff in the use of e-prescriptions.
  • Communicate the advantages of e-prescriptions to your patients.

Outlook and conclusion about e-prescription

The e-prescription is an important step towards digitalized healthcare in Switzerland. Thanks to its ease of use and numerous advantages, it is becoming increasingly attractive for both doctors and patients. Experience from Switzerland, but also from neighbouring countries such as Germany, shows that e-prescription is not just a practical solution. It also has the potential to make drug therapy and drug dispensing safer

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