Apotheken.de’s iPhone based service to locate open pharmacies during Christmas and the New Year.

A new Web 2.0 iPhone service has been introduced in Germany, which shows what pharmacies are open during Christmas and a map of how to get there.

The new service details Christmas opening times and locations for nearly all of the 21000 pharmacies in Germany. The service is offered by Apotheken.de, one of the biggest German-language pharmacy websites.

Opening the website prompts the user to enter their postcode, which then returns a choice of nearby pharmacies displayed, together with directions, using Google Maps.

As well as details and locations of pharmacies that are open, the service also includes details of GPs on duty, though this part of service is still under development and doesn’t yet cover the whole country.

Apotheken.de’s is one of the first iPhone specific medical services in Germany, where the iPhone has been available for two months. However, other online pharmacy services such as e-medication still remain at an early stage in Germany.

“Pharmacy networks and pharmacy marketing alliances are reluctant to even think about the possibility of using electronic medication services to help patients keep track of their medication electronically“, Harald Sondhof of the Tübingen-based health-IT company Careon, tole E-Health Europe.

This, he stressed, was wrong because e-medication services not only improve medication safety and patient compliance but “also can be used to win or keep customers.”

Careon is offering a web-based, patient-centred personal health record (PHR). It is available in various forms dependent on the adoption scenario. One version focuses on medication issues, with services like interaction check or reminder functions for medication times. Pharmacists could offer it to patients as an additional service.

Sondhof managed to persuade ten German pharmacies to take part in a pilot project, due to start early 2008. The pharmacists will offer the e-medication PHR service to chronically ill patients. “It will be easy to use, because it is integrated into the enterprise resource planning software. So pharmacists can add medication to their customer’s PHR almost automatically”, Sondhof said. The IT partner in the project is ADV, and with around 800 pharmacies as customers it’s a medium size provider of pharmacy IT in Germany.

Given their affinity with the iPhone, pharmacists might be persuaded of e-medication services as soon as PHR are offered in iPhone versions. Indeed, the Walldorf-based company ICW has recently presented an iPhone version of its PHR ‘LifeSensor’.

Another reason to consider the iPhone a perfect e-health-present for Christmas 2007?






Philipp Grätzel