News & Analysis

Estonia opens pharmacies to Finns with ePrescriptions

From January 21, the first EU patients can use digital prescriptions issued by their home doctor when visiting a pharmacy in another EU country: Finnish patients are now able to go to a pharmacy in Estonia and retrieve medicine prescribed electronically by their doctor in Finland.

The initiative applies to all ePrescriptions prescribed in Finland and to the Estonian pharmacies that have signed the agreement. The novelty of this initiative is that the ePrescriptions are visible electronically to participating pharmacists in the receiving country via the new eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure, without the patient having to provide a written prescription. This is in line with our policy on Digital Health and Care, which aims to empower patients by giving access to their health data and ensuring continuity of care.

Vice President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said: “Congratulations to Finland and Estonia for showing the path in eHealth cooperation between states and I would like other countries to follow soon. People should be able to use their ePrescriptions across borders. Free movement is a founding principle of the EU: we must make it as easy as possible for people to get treatment or medicines when abroad in the EU. The next major step will be to simplify patient access to their very own health data, by developing a common format for exchanging electronic health records between EU countries.”

Mariya Gabriel, commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, said: “This is a great starting point for better care for citizens, something arguably very important for them. ePrescriptions and International Patient Summaries can save lives in case of emergency situations. The EU Budget financed the technical solutions used for these exchanges, showing once again how important and how close it is to citizen’s daily life.”

In 2011, the European institutions adopted Directive 2011/24 which ensures continuity of care for European citizens across borders. The directive gives the possibility for Member States to exchange health data in a secure, efficient and interoperable way. Cross-border health services are now being progressively introduced in all EU Member States.