Since the beginning of 2017, doctors have issued all prescriptions electronically apart from a few exceptional cases. However, e-prescriptions have been introduced in stages already since 2011.
Patients who have received a prescription are able to collect their medication with a patient instruction sheet or, for example, their Kela card from the pharmacy of their choice. Patients can view their own prescription data in the My Kanta Pages. As a result of the electronic system, it is also easier to order a repeat prescription.
The introduction of e-prescriptions has also facilitated pharmacy work. Pharmacist Aino Sinisalo of Kontulankaari Pharmacy sees a number of benefits in the current system.
“Almost all of the prescription medicines used by the customer are found in the Prescription Centre. We are able to see whether the customer has any drugs that may have any harmful interactions, as well as other essential information with respect to medication safety. In addition, all prescriptions are definitely kept safe unlike paper prescriptions, which may be forgotten at home. It is easier to help the customer to manage their overall medication when the prescriptions are available in a collective form in the Prescription Centre,” Sinisalo sums up.
Prescriptions are processed through the Kanta services
These days, doctors issue almost all prescriptions electronically in the Prescription Centre database in the Kanta services. Any pharmacy can then dispense the medication and make the dispensing records in the service on the basis of the information in the database. All information shared between the healthcare services, pharmacies and the Prescription Centre is encrypted.
Aino Sinisalo started working in Kontulankaari Pharmacy in autumn 2016, at which time e-prescriptions were already in full use. Therefore, her everyday tasks were not changed radically when e-prescriptions became mandatory on 1 January 2017.
“The biggest change has been in practical work when paper prescriptions issued in exceptional cases are converted into electronic format in the pharmacy,” she explains.
Doctors can prescribe medication exceptionally as a paper or telephone prescription, e.g. when electronic issuing is not possible due to a technical fault. According to Sinisalo, paper prescriptions are not completely uncommon at least at Kontulankaari. However, it is simple to convert the prescription into electronic format.
“At the pharmacy, the pharmacist will enter the paper prescription in the information system and record it in the Prescription Centre, where it will then be available in electronic format. Situations where a customer does not have a Finnish personal identity number are more problematic. In such a case, other pharmacies cannot view an e-prescription in the Prescription Centre, and the customer can collect the prescription packages from one pharmacy only.”
“Sometimes the processing of paper prescriptions will take more time if the organisation entered by the doctor does not correspond with the organisation title in the Prescription Centre. This is an area that would need more clarity!” Sinisalo adds with a glint in her eye.
Most people are familiar with e-services
According to Sinisalo, the majority of customers at the Kontulankaari pharmacy seem to be happy to use electronic prescriptions. Sometimes a customer may long for the time when paper prescriptions were still in use if they find it challenging to use e-services. For example, electronic authentication is needed to be able to view your own prescriptions in the My Kanta Pages.
“For the majority of people e-services are part of their everyday lives, but we do aim to help our customers where necessary by printing out the prescription summaries,” says Sinisalo.
Most prescriptions issued by doctors are valid for two years. In some cases, the validity period may confuse the pharmacy customers: if the doctor has issued several packages on the same prescription, the prescription appears as valid for two years in My Kanta Pages even if there are no packages left. However, this does not happen very often.