E-prescriptions: important questions and answers about electronic prescriptions in Germany starting in 2022


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The Electronic prescription (e-prescription) and eAU will start in Germany as planned at the beginning of 2022. 

E-prescriptions: The electronic prescription of prescription drugs in the telematics infrastructure (TI) will be mandatory from January 1, 2022. This is what the Patient Data Protection Act (PDSG) provides, which was passed by the Bundestag on July 3rd, 2020.


Electronic prescriptions: Overview

  • Electronic prescriptions should make the processes at doctors and pharmacies faster for you, help avoid unnecessary journeys and be more forgery-proof.
  • Not all medical practices yet meet the technical requirements for providing the e-prescription. As an exception, they may initially continue to issue paper prescriptions.
  • In order to redeem the e-prescription in the pharmacy, you need the app “The e-prescription”, an electronic health card and the PIN number from the health insurance company.
  • If you do not use a smartphone, you can also get a paper printout of the prescription code in the doctor’s office and then redeem it in a pharmacy on site.

▶ With the introduction of the electronic prescription, digitization in the healthcare system is to be promoted. With the e-prescription you get prescriptions for prescription drugs in electronic form instead of on pink paper.

A scenario in which you can save a lot of time: In the future, you can also redeem prescriptions online at your pharmacy and have medication delivered to your home if the pharmacy offers a courier service or delivery. It will also be possible to receive follow -up prescriptions from your doctor to the e-prescription app without a visit or after a video consultation. Also practical: you can use the app to inform your pharmacy about your medication requirements and see whether the pharmacy has the medication in stock and when you can pick it up there with the digital prescription.


When does the e-prescription start?

From January 1, 2022, those with statutory health insurance should only receive electronic prescriptions for prescription drugs in their doctor’s office. Due to technical difficulties, this date has unfortunately been postponed again indefinitely.

The background: not all medical practices meet the technical requirements for the provision of the e-prescription. Initially, they are still allowed to issue paper prescriptions. The practices that meet the technical requirements can already issue e-prescriptions. It is therefore best to ask your doctor whether they can issue you an electronic prescription.

What is the e-prescription?

E-prescription stands for “electronic prescription” and is a digital prescription code that you can redeem for the prescribed product in the pharmacy.

The prescription code is similar to a QR code and contains the prescription data in digital form.

In the first step, only the prescriptions for prescription drugs are issued electronically.

The e-prescription will then be gradually expanded. In the future, prescriptions for narcotics and digital health applications as well as referrals for specialists, remedies, aids or home nursing are to be digitized.

How can you use the e-prescription?

In order to be able to use the e-prescription, you have to download the app “The e-prescription” . It is available in the popular app stores from Google, Apple and Huawei. 

Before installing, pay attention to the publisher of the app: The official app comes from “gematik GmbH”, which the legislator has commissioned with the implementation. The e-prescription app runs on smartphones that support the NFC transmission standard and have at least iOS 14 or Android 7 as the operating system.

To log into the app: You also need an electronic health card with NFC function (this enables contactless data exchange, similar to EC cards) and a PIN number. You can apply for a PIN and NFC-enabled health card from your health insurance company. Many health insurance companies have been issuing new cards for a long time. It is therefore quite possible that you already have a suitable health card.

To log into the app: You have to authenticate yourself with the so-called 6-digit CAN number and a PIN. The CAN is located in the upper right corner of the health card. You will receive the PIN separately from the health insurance company.

What if you don’t have a smartphone or tablet?

The e-prescription can also be used without a smartphone or tablet. The e-prescription can be printed out by your doctor and given to you on paper. You can then redeem this printout as usual at a pharmacy of your choice.

Can I also call up and use the e-prescription on my PC?

There will be an “application for the insured” on the PC. This makes it possible to view and delete e-prescriptions and logs for the e-prescription. However, you cannot redeem e-prescriptions at pharmacies here. This is only possible with the paper printout from the doctor’s office or with your smartphone app.


How is the e-prescription supposed to work?

Step 1 

The doctor’s practice creates a corresponding prescription for the required medication as required. What is new is that the regulation is no longer printed out on pink paper and signed by hand. Doctor sign electronically.

With the electronic signature, the information from the regulation is stored encrypted directly in the telematics infrastructure.

Video consultation hours : As part of a video consultation hour, an e-prescription can also be issued and transmitted to the app. This means that you do not have to go to the doctor’s office in person.

Step 2 

You as a patient: then decide whether you want to have the e-prescription sent to your smartphone or printed out. A 2D code can be seen on the paper prescription, which can be read in at the pharmacy.

Step 3

You can still redeem the e-prescription in person at the pharmacy. The prescription code is scanned there. You can either present the printout in paper form or have the e-prescription read out from your smartphone. In future, however, you can also forward the e-prescription to a mail-order pharmacy via the app and have it delivered to you.

You can also redeem the e-prescription in person at the pharmacy. The prescription code is scanned there. You can either present the printout in paper form or have the e-prescription read out from your smartphone.

Is the e-prescription also available for those with private health insurance?

The blue prescription for privately insured persons is initially still available in paper form. But people with private health insurance should also have access to the e-prescription in the future.

The technical prerequisites for this are currently being created between gematik GmbH and the Association of Private Health Insurance.

Data protection and data security for e-prescriptions

The doctor’s office gives the e-prescription a qualified electronic signature. Using this signature, the pharmacy can reliably determine who issued the e-prescription and whether the content of the e-prescription has been changed without authorization.

Only the prescribing doctor’s practice and the pharmacy of your choice can view the e-prescription.

The data of the e-prescription is encrypted and stored on servers of the so-called telematics infrastructure, which are located in a secure data center. They are automatically deleted 100 days after redemption, but can also be deleted independently by the insured before this period has expired.


E-prescription can only be redeemed once

Since the status of an e-prescription is stored centrally in the digital health network, it can only be redeemed once.

As soon as a pharmacy has redeemed an e-prescription, the status is changed and does not allow a second redemption.

What are the benefits of the e-prescription?

  • The e-prescription ends the paperwork in practices and pharmacies, saves time and trips. The prescription can be redeemed online without having to visit the pharmacy in person. The app can be used to display whether the desired drug is currently in stock. It is no longer necessary to go to the pharmacy if they also offer a delivery service.
  • Direct forwarding to online pharmacies is also possible. Previously, you had to send the paper prescription to the mail-order pharmacy in advance by post for prescription drugs.
  • If you have already been to the doctor’s office in a quarter, the follow-up prescription can be sent directly from the practice in the e-prescription app. E-prescriptions can also be issued during video consultation hours.
  • Prescriptions from third parties, e.g. relatives in need of care or residents, can also be redeemed if they are loaded into the app.
  • Shorter waiting times in the pharmacy: no more typing or copying of paper prescriptions necessary.
  • By linking it to other digital applications, such as the e-medication plan (eMP), more security is achieved. Specialists and pharmacists can recognize dangerous interactions more quickly.
  • The e-prescription is more forgery-proof than a paper prescription and, unlike the paper prescription, cannot be lost or accidentally damaged.
Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany


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