Press release: Health Insurance Fund to take control of the Prescription Centre
Starting from today, the Health Insurance Fund will be serving as the chief processor of the Prescription Centre. The chief processor is responsible for managing and maintaining the digital prescription system. According to the Minister of Social Affairs Taavi Rõivas, the Health Insurance Fund, currently an authorised processor, has the appropriate competence. “The digital prescription is a world-rate technological innovation that significantly increased the ease of use of the system of prescribing and buying prescription medicines. The Prescription Centre opened in 2010, and two years later already 96% of all the prescriptions were digital,” the Minister said. Thanks to a more effective control mechanism, the digital prescription managed to significantly increase the percentage of active ingredient-based prescriptions. In 2011 and earlier this percentage used to be around 50%, whereas from 2012 on the number has been above 75%. “Estonia has thereby taken a big step toward a more contemporary practice of the prescription of medicines. A prescription based on active ingredients also makes it possible for the patient to choose the cheapest option from the pharmacy. Hence, the digital prescription has also helped to reduce the patients’ cost-sharing when purchasing prescription medicines,” added Rõivas. According to Chairman of the Management Board of the Health Insurance Fund Tanel Ross, the digital prescription is one of the most important IT projects of the Health Insurance Fund. “We have been making preparations to transfer the digital prescription to the Health Insurance Fund’s infrastructure for the past two years. The transfer is intended to provide a more reliable service to the patients, doctors as well as pharmacists. In a longer term, the change is also going to reduce the administration costs of the system,” Ross explained. According to the Health Insurance Fund, the data received from the digital prescription system make it possible to plan effective control over the prescribers and distributors of medicines. Thanks to the digital prescription, it is also possible to increase the quality of the treatment provided to the patients, as the doctor’s desktop now has an overview of the medicinal products prescribed to the patient. This makes it possible to assess whether the patients follow the regimen prescribed by the doctor, whether there is a risk of drug interactions or the abuse of medicinal products. The aim of the digital prescription project was to create an electronic data sharing system that would normally fully replace the prescription and distribution of a medicine on the basis of a paper prescription. The digital prescription system was first thought of in 2003. More serious work on its introduction commenced in 2007, and the digital prescription service was made available to users in January 2010. In 2010, the percentage of digital prescriptions out of all prescriptions was 73% (5,576,161 digitally drawn up prescriptions), in 2011, it was 90% (8,842,568 digitally drawn up prescriptions), and in 2012 the percentage of digitally drawn up prescriptions was 96%. The outcome of the project was also measured by the percentage of patient satisfaction. By the end of 2010, the rate of satisfaction was 92%, and in 2012, it was 97%. In 2011, the Health Insurance Fund received the Finnish Quality Innovation Award for developing and implementing the digital prescription.
On 21 March, the Government of the Republic approved a draft resolution for the amendment of the regulation. Pursuant to the amendment, the Estonian Health Insurance Fund will be serving as the chief processor of the Prescription Centre from 1 April. Up to now, the Ministry of Social Affairs has been functioning as the chief processor, whereas the Health Insurance Fund has performed the tasks of an authorised processor of the Prescription Centre.