Recently, we have been hearing about (and some have even seen in action) the new electronic prescriptions (e-prescription). Abandoning the traditional handwritten doctor's prescription is just the latest of many steps towards public administration innovation on e-services.
How will it replace traditional prescriptions?
This initiative really began with the approval of Art.50 of the Law 326/2003 in Italy which effectively standardized health prescriptions into one format, introduced the Health Card, the mandatory submission of the data of the prescriptions from pharmacies and doctors and finally today, the e-prescription.
The old booklet of the red prescriptions of Italian doctors has now been replaced by a series of electronic prescription numbers (NRE). These unique numbers are delivered centrally from the Società Generale d'Informatica (SOGEI), the ICT arm of the Ministry of Finance and Economy, and supplied to doctors after passing through the Azienda Sanitaria Locale (ASL), the local health authority.
Let's take a visit to our local doctor. Our doctor comes forward to write the prescriptions by hand and cut a sheet from the booklet. Normally this is where the old system would stop. But now, aside from making a hand-written prescription, the doctor prescribes treatment directly online using your NRE. The centralized management system in SOGEI will then send your NRE information and tax code which will then be validated.
Your doctor will receive a confirmation email if SOGEI received the request and the patient will be given a prescription reminder, along with all the relevant information of the prescription.
The patient can then go to the pharmacy and, using the NRE and the tax code, will be able to find the e-prescription. The pharmacist then will be able to close the process by notifying SOGEI of the successful release of prescribed medication.
There are quite a few benefits brought about by shifting to e-prescriptions. Now, all the medical prescriptions can be traced easily. The new system will also allow the monitoring of pharmaceutical and special expenditures of the National Health Service thereby allowing for proper health budget planning on the national level and also allows trends to be analyzed.
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