BERLIN (Reuters) – The rollout of a fully fledged digital prescriptions system in Germany will not meet the legally binding deadline of Jan. 1, 2022 due to delayed testing and the lack of technological infrastructure, the health ministry said.
Germany’s outdated healthcare system, where many doctors still communicate primarily by fax machine and paper, has come under criticism especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
The ministry said it would only be able to introduce the new system gradually as the necessary technological systems are not available widely enough.
Since the system is still being tested, it is also uncertain if an error-free rollout would be possible, the ministry said in a letter to the body responsible for digitalising the system.
“As soon as the agreed quality criteria are fulfilled, the transition to e-prescriptions should follow along the lines of a still-to-be-determined rollout process,” said the letter, seen by Reuters on Tuesday.
Shares in online pharmacy companies Zur Rose and Shop Apotheke slumped on the news of the delay.
A study by McKinsey in November 2021 found that, while the pandemic had accelerated the march towards a digitalised healthcare system, 95% of communications between doctors’ offices and hospitals continued to be in paper form.
(Reporting by Miranda Murray; Editing by Angus MacSwan)