For security reasons, an ID card is required to log on to the ePatient portal - it is the only form of authorization that can guarantee the complete security of medical records. Using the portal, patients can consult the medical records, appointments and pay consultation fees. It is also possible to request an appointment reminder via SMS or e-mail, or both. The service launched in April 2008 and more than 47% of the population now how a complete medical record (source Estonian Health Foundation, May 2011).
Half of the total number of prescriptions issued by doctors in Estonia were given in digital form (March 2011) and the objective is to raise this figure to 100%. As of May 2011 the rate of ePrescriptions in Estonia's healthcare system is around 80 %. A full 100 % of radiological images, excluding dental, are now stored in the picture archiving and communication system (PACS). More than 95 % of the country's doctors are currently using the EHR.
The transition period during which paper and electronic are allowed to co-exist is set to end on March 1. Estonia is the first country in Europe to make the move entirely over to digital prescriptions, which are dematerialized at the source.
The reasons given by the Estonian authorities are simple and highlight the weaknesses of the paper system. "In the past, patients had to carry paper prescriptions with them to the pharmacy. This system had several weaknesses: it was easy to lose the paper, the handwriting of the doctor could be illegible, etc. Electronic prescriptions have solved these problems because all prescriptions are sent to a central database. When the patient goes to the pharmacy, the pharmacist receives the prescription from the central database—there is no chance for the patient to lose the prescription or any risk that it might be unreadable."
Estonian national electronic health record (EHR) has a cost equivalent to € 7.50 per citizen ($ 10). (source http://epractice.eu/en/news/5306722)
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