New Pharmaceuticals Act marks another step towards the digitization of healthcare in the Czech Republic

Will the introduction of a shared medication record help make the practice of drug prescriptions safer and more transparent?

Increasing digitization continues to be a trend in the healthcare sector.

Even back in 2007, the Pharmaceuticals Act then in force enabled physicians to issue prescriptions in electronic form. From 2018, electronic prescriptions are mandatory. One contentious area which has so far remained unaddressed by the lawmaker is the issue of  exchange of data, and in particular the shared medication record. Because of this, doctors have no knowledge of drugs issued to, or taken by, their patients, other than those which they prescribed themselves.

With this in mind, the next logical step is a shared medication record. This is supposed to ensure exchange of information between patient, healthcare facility (prescribing physician), and pharmacy (pharmacist issuing the medication). The shared medication record is intended to forestall duplicate prescriptions and unwanted interaction between prescribed drugs. It also provides the treating physician with an overview of all drugs prescribed and actually issued to the patient.

The shared medication record is intended to be based on the opt-out principle, which ought to ensure that almost all patients in the Czech Republic will automatically participate. In line with this principle, patient’s consent is not required for doctors or pharmacies who wish to access the patient’s medication record; however, the patient may at any time express refusal to allow access. This refusal may later be revoked, or the patient may decide to grant access only to certain specific healthcare providers. Thanks to this arrangement, individuals always retain full control over who can access their sensitive personal data.

The amendment to the Pharmaceuticals Act will come into force as of the first day of the second month following promulgation in the Collection of Laws. However, the provisions on the shared medication record will be applied only after a transitional period of six months from the date on which the law as a whole takes effect.

Until then, patients – and even more so their physicians – are well advised to get their bearings in the context of the rather sweeping amendment to the Pharmaceuticals Act, and the rights and obligations arising from it. Physicians and pharmacists are moreover obliged to ensure compliance of their information systems with the newly established eRecept system, i.e., the prescription system of which the shared medication record will be a part.

The details will be stipulated in an implementation ordinance.

Yesterday, the House of Deputies has rejected the Senate’s riders and instead adopted the amended Pharmaceuticals Act in the wording of the bill which it originally submitted to the Senate.

Parliamentary press No. 302


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