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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Germany: With the advent of the electronic patient record, there are both advantages and disadvantages to be considered. On the one hand, the implementation of such a system could bring about a plethora of benefits, such as increased efficiency, enhanced accuracy, and improved communication between healthcare providers. On the other hand, there are potential drawbacks, including the cost of implementation, the potential for data breaches, and the need for extensive training for healthcare professionals. Ultimately, the decision to adopt an electronic patient record must be weighed carefully, taking into account both the potential benefits and the potential risks.


In accordance with the wishes of Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach, every insured citizen will receive an electronic patient card next year. The SPD politician announced this in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS): “At the end of next year, the electronic patient file will become compulsory for everyone.

Lauterbach plans to submit his proposal to the federal cabinet. He also wants to make electronic prescription mandatory in 2024.

The electronic patient record (ePA) should eliminate CD X-rays, paper records and faxes. They can be consulted using a mobile phone or a computer. Doctors, physiotherapists, nurses and midwives should be able to get an overview of the health status of their patients or consult a complete medical history with just a few clicks.

The electronic patient record has been available as a voluntary offer for the 74 million people with compulsory health insurance since January 2021, but less than one percent of patients have used it so far, said Lauterbach. The German National Association of Health Insurance Funds said: “Now is the time to move forward. An electronic patient record can become the centerpiece of a modernized healthcare system.

“The patient file is very important”

With an electronic card, the patient becomes the owner of his data, the Minister announces the innovation. “He gets an orderly review of medical reports, prescribed medications.” This approach is certainly a good assistant in treatment. “The doctor will quickly see which drugs he can prescribe in addition, if there are any interactions. He can also see if his colleague has already looked at the same thing before.

“The patient file is very important,” said the German Foundation for Patient Protection. But at the same time, a solution is also needed for non-technical patients. “Karl Lauterbach must make improvements or his law will fail in the Federal Constitutional Court.”

More efficient and quality treatment

From a technical point of view, Lauterbach wants to be pragmatic: “We will not wait until there is a standardized data structure for all conclusions.” To begin with, it will be possible to submit data in PDF or Word files.

The stated objective of the ePA is to make treatment more efficient and of better quality. For example, delete many unnecessary exams. However, disputes erupt over a number of issues. Thus, the Federal Data Protection Commissioner Ulrich Kelber, for example, criticized the proposed procedure, according to which a file cannot be transferred if the patient actively objects.

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Copyright © 2023 The Eastern Herald.

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