X-rays on CD, doctor’s letters on paper, findings by fax – this should be a thing of the past and everything should be visible in one app – for patients and doctors. So far, however, interest has been low.
Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD) wants every person with health insurance to receive an electronic patient file next year. “At the end of next year, the electronic patient file will be binding for everyone,” announced Lauterbach in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS)”. “Anyone who does not expressly object is automatically included.” Lauterbach wants to present his proposal to the federal cabinet on Monday. He also wants to make electronic prescriptions binding in 2024.
The electronic patient file (ePA) should make X-rays on CD, paper files and faxes superfluous, for example. They can then be viewed via mobile phone or computer. Physicians, physiotherapists, nurses and midwives should be able to get an idea of the state of health of their patients with just a few clicks or view a complete medical history.
The electronic patient file has been available as a voluntary offer for the 74 million people with statutory health insurance since January 2021. But according to Lauterbach, only less than one percent of patients have used it so far.
With the electronic file, the patient becomes the master of his data, the minister advertised. “He gets an orderly overview of doctor’s letters, findings, medication.” That also helps with the treatment. “His doctor can quickly see which medication he can also prescribe, whether there are any interactions. He can also see whether a colleague has already examined the same thing before.”
Technically, Lauterbach wants to be pragmatic. “We don’t wait until there is a standardized data structure for all findings.” For starters, it will be possible to feed in PDF or Word files.
The declared goal of the ePA is to make care more effective and better – for example by making multiple examinations unnecessary. However, there are delays in networking the practices. With several questions, a dispute about data protection smolders. The Federal Data Protection Commissioner Ulrich Kelber, for example, was critical of the intended procedure of only dispensing with the file if the patient actively objects.