E-prescriptions finally coming to Germany: What you need to know

E-prescriptions finally coming to Germany: What you need to know

Germany’s huge project of introducing e-prescriptions is moving one step further forward, with the announcement that some regions will begin rolling out the new digital prescriptions from September 1. Here’s what you need to know about the new system. 

What is an e-prescription (e-Rezept)?

In another step towards building a more digital healthcare system, Germany is moving towards introducing e-prescriptions (known in German as an “e-Rezept”). In future, patients should be able to receive prescriptions from their doctor via a QR code sent to a secure app, which can then be forwarded digitally to a pharmacy.

According to the Federal Ministry of Health, e-prescriptions are being introduced so that “treatment with medicines becomes safer, processes in doctors’ offices and pharmacies are simplified, and paperwork in the healthcare system stops.”

For instance, it means that people having video consultations from home will no longer have to come to the surgery in person to pick up their prescription; it can instead be sent directly to the pharmacy of their choice.

E-prescriptions can also be paired with apps on mobile phones to, for instance, remind someone to take their medication, or create a medication plan that automatically checks interactions between different medications, to make sure that prescriptions are compatible with each other. 

When are digital prescriptions being introduced in Germany?

If you’re reading all this thinking, “I’m sure I’ve heard of this before," you’re not wrong. In typical German style, e-prescriptions began being discussed a long time before the system even got close to being implemented. The legal basis for a digital prescription was created all the way back in 2020, with the idea of the system becoming mandatory from January 2022, but progress has since been sluggish.

A test phase in Berlin and Brandenburg got off to a slow start last year, before a delayed nationwide pilot project came up against resistance from doctors and health insurance companies, who complained that the system would be difficult to implement.

Under a new health minister, however, things are finally sliding into place, and all parties have agreed on the next steps, which will start in September 2022 with a rollout in Schleswig-Holstein and the Westphalia-Lippe region of North Rhine-Westphalia. Further federal states will follow in December, and more in 2023, so long as the initial rollout goes successfully.

From September. pharmacies nationwide will be asked to accept digital prescriptions, but doctors will not be required to issue e-prescriptions until their region is included in the rollout. 

How does it work?

Should everything go to plan - and that is a very big “if” - many people could soon be using e-prescriptions in Germany.

It will work something like this: following a consultation with your doctor (either in person at the surgery or via video call), you will be issued with an electronic prescription, containing a QR code. You can either send this digitally to the pharmacy of your choice via the app, and get a notification when your medication is ready to collect, or ask for a printout and take it in person to the pharmacy.

E-prescriptions don’t need a doctor’s signature because they have been digitally signed. In the long run, the process should save time, effort and lots of paperwork. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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Donna Faura 14:32 | 29 July 2022

I guess there's a typo here "will no longer have to come to the surgery in person", 4th paragraph.

WolfgangHolst2 20:02 | 29 July 2022

So, might I be able to have physicians in America transmit prescriptions to a pharmacy in Germany some time in the not too distant future?