Two pharmacy PHR projects launched in Germany

  • 24 January 2008

Two new pilots are underway to offer pharmacy personal health records (PHRs) in Germany. Both are based on a PHR including details of current medication and offer patients the potential to offer prescription ordering online.

In the first of the two projects e-health vendor CompuGroup is partnering with the pioneering Dutch mail-order pharmacy DocMorris to offer PHRs containing details of medical records and a list of the patient’s current medications.

The second project is a joint venture between the PHR solution provider careon and ADV, a medium sized pharmacy IT specialist, active in German-speaking markets.

As well as running a mail-order pharmacy, DocMorris also runs a marketing network in Germany which has around 90 independent pharmacies as paying members.

Two of these DocMorris pharmacies in Cologne are offering access to CompuGroup’s ’vita-XPHR‘ for customers via a terminal in the pharmacy. The patients use a personal smartcard to access their PHR.

“For the moment, the project is primarily directed at patients of 400 doctors in private practice who form a care network in the Cologne area”, Peter Weber CompuGroup’s project manager told E-Health Europe.

Doctors in the private network use the vita-X PHR to share medical documents. A list of current medications forms a core part of the record. Access to the data is granted via a smartcard which the patient carries with them.

“In the two DocMorris pharmacies, the patients of the Cologne care network can now use their smartcard to access their PHR and to print a medication list”, says head of sales at DocMorris, Thomas Schiffer.

The medication list is then handed over to the pharmacist who checks drug safety and medication interactions. In return for using the system, the customer gets a five per cent discount on any over-the-counter-products he might want to buy.

“For the moment, our goal is to see how customers react to using a smartcard and computer terminal in the pharmacy”, said Schiffer. If the six-month project is a success, the terminals could be rolled out to further DocMorris pharmacies.

The results will be particularly interesting in light of the experience of the national German smartcard project where citizens will be expected to access personal medical data, electronic prescriptions and the like via computer terminals in hospitals or pharmacies.

In the long run, DocMorris also has a strategic interest in the development of PHRs. The Dutch company is a pharmacy label as well as a mail-order pharmacy, and aware of the possibility of offering mail-order medication as part of a personal health record.

In this scenario, a patient would use their smartcard at home to open his PHR and see not only personal medical data, but also have the option to order medication directly via the internet – using an online prescription from their doctor.

For the moment, these are just concepts, but they may not be far from becoming reality. The PHR-solution provider careon is already offering its PHR in a variant that includes a mail-order medication shop. Careon will start its PHR project with ten pharmacies in the spring.

In contrast to the CompuGroup project, this one includes direct electronic communication between the pharmacy ERP system and the patient’s PHR. “This makes it possible for the pharmacist to automatically update the medication list in the PHR and to run safety checks electronically”, said Rupert Sierp of ADV, the company that provides the pharmacy IT system involved.

For pharmacists, it could be particularly attractive to combine the customer or loyalty cards that many of them offer with the smartcard used to access the PHR. All in all, though, pharmacists are still even more hesitant than doctors to use PHR solutions: “When introduced to pharmacists, this kind of project clearly needs a lot of explaining and convincing at the moment”, said Sierp.


Philipp Grätzel

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