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Finland's millionth electronic prescription was issued on Monday 30 April 2012.
The introduction of the electronic prescriptions system (eRecept) has been gradually expanded throughout Finland. The first electronic prescription was issued and dispensed in the city of Turku (south-west Finland) in May 2010. Since 2011, 12 hospital districts have issued electronic prescriptions, while on May Day eve the millionth threshold was reached.
The Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Paula Risikko said in this regard: "The millionth electronic prescription proves that our work has not gone in vain and that electronic prescriptions are part of our daily lives in most parts of Finland. I am very pleased that the introduction of electronic prescriptions has progressed in such a positive way and I expect that we will soon bring electronic prescriptions into use in all of Finland."
Currently, pharmacies are becoming capable of processing electronic prescriptions, and the deployment of the latter is in full swing in public healthcare. During spring 2012, the use of the ePrescriptions system will start in most hospital districts, including the hospital district of Helsinki and Uusimaa (Helsingfors och Nylands sjukvårdsdistrikt – HNS, in Finnish) as well as the Pirkanmaa Hospital District.
The eRecept project is part of the National Archive of Health Information (Kansallinen Terveysarkisto - KanTa, in Finnish), which is a collective term used for a range of national health care information systems including ePrescriptions, a national pharmaceutical database, an electronic health records archive and a portal for citizens to access their own health information online. The service will be operational throughout the country within the next few years.
"The millionth ePrescription shows that the National Archive of Health Information services work," says Riitta Konttinen, project manager for eRecept at the National Institute for Health and Welfare (Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitoksen - THL, in Finnish). She added: "Successful implementations of eRecept and common business models in public healthcare create continuity and show the way to the actors in private healthcare, who will start using the system. By working together, it is easier also for others to succeed and to benefit from experience.”
According to the law on electronic prescriptions, public healthcare institutions will use electronic prescriptions by April 2013, whereas the private sector will do by April 2014.
eRecept is a major project, with the following main actors involved in its implementation: the National Institute for Health and Welfare, the Population Register Centre (Väestörekisterikeskus, in Finnish), National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (Sosiaali- ja terveysministeriö, in Finnish) who is responsible for its strategic management. Social and health care uses several different data systems, making it challenging to coordinate them. At the same time, complete information security must be ensured.