Digital Medicine: The ePatient File

Mobile health book: The electronic patient file is considered to be the heart of the digitization of the German health care system and should accompany people for a lifetime in 2021. We clarify the important questions

This is what the electronic patient record could look like on a smartphone

© W & B / Veronika Graf / iStock

What is behind the electronic patient file, also known as the ePA?

In the future, patients will be able to view and manage documents about their health on their own mobile phone or tablet. Medication plans and X-ray images are included as well as laboratory findings or emergency data. Patients can also post pain diaries or information from fitness trackers - for themselves and the doctor. "All documents are encrypted and are stored securely in the ePA file system," says Charly Bunar, ePA product manager at the Gematik development company in Berlin.

What does the personal medical database bring?

"The EPR facilitates the exchange of documents between different doctors, pharmacists, clinics and the patient," says Dr. Philipp Stachwitz, doctor and digital expert at the Health Innovation Hub of the Federal Ministry of Health. "In this way, for example, doctors can better identify which treatments have already been carried out and avoid double examinations." So far, doctors have been saving or storing medical documents in the practice or clinic. The exchange with other health care professionals is often incomplete.

When is the EPR coming?

In one year, from January 1, 2021, the patient file should be available to all those with statutory health insurance in Germany. This was decided by the Bundestag within the framework of the Appointments Service and Supply Act. You can read on the right how interested parties can get their ePA.

Do you have to have a file?

No. Everyone can decide for themselves if they want one.