Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 30th May 2016 21:21 UTC
Internet & Networking

When I asked President Ilves how he observes Estonia’s technological, social, and cultural changes from 2006 until now, the first thing he mentioned was the advent of fully digital prescription. Estonia, like nearly every other EU member state, has universal health care. Since 2002, Estonia has issued digital ID cards to all citizens and legal residents. These cards allow access to a "citizen’s portal," enabling all kinds of government services to exist entirely online: essentially any interaction with the government can be done online, ranging from paying taxes, to voting, to even picking up a prescription.

"In the United States, 5,000 people die a year because of doctor's bad handwriting," he said. "It's very simple. You go to the doctor, and he writes the prescription in the computer, and you go to any pharmacy in the country, and you stick your card in the reader, and you identify yourself, and you get your prescription."

As he pointed out repeatedly, "the stumbling blocks are not technological," but rather, are bureaucratic.

I'm pretty sure we have the same digital prescription system here in The Netherlands - it really is as simple as the doctor sending out his prescription to the pharmacy for you, so it's ready for you right as you pick it up after the doctor's visit. I have no idea if this system I encounter here in my small, rural hometown is nationwide. In addition, I'd also assume that in the US, not every doctor is still using paper prescriptions - it's probably a patchwork of digital and paper.

Setting that all aside - I have never heard a head of state speak this eloquently about digital matters, the internet, open source, and similar topics. Looking at my own politicians, who barely know how to hold a smartphone, yet decide on crucial digital matters, this is a huge breath of fresh air. I know too little about the man's policy positions and history other than what's being said in this interview, so it might be that Estonians who know him will hold a different view.

Really do watch the video interview.

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RE: Estonia isn't without problems
by Odisej on Tue 31st May 2016 07:52 UTC in reply to "Estonia isn't without problems"
Member since:

Wonderful point. Countries/politicians like to brag about this and that but many times using pencil and paper works just as well and is - safer. E-voting is one area open to all sorts of manipulations. It is not only the will that is needed but wisdom as well.

I don't wish my country to be a guinea pig for anything e-related.

And about e-prescriptions: what is the big deal? I went to the doctor he gave me a piece of paper and voila I got the medicine. With e-prescription my life is in no way easier.

Reply Parent Score: 3

WereCatf Member since:

And about e-prescriptions: what is the big deal? I went to the doctor he gave me a piece of paper and voila I got the medicine. With e-prescription my life is in no way easier.

With an electronic prescription you won't have to remember to take the paper with you, you don't have to worry about your toddler finding it and scribbling on it, or your dog eating it, wind can't rip it out of your fingers, or anything like that. Sure, if it's just a one-off thing it may not change much, but if it's an on-going prescription then it definitely matters, and the older you get or the more trouble you have with your memory or such the more important it gets.

Over here it has definitely been a boon to the elderly and me, with forgetting stuff all the time, have also benefited greatly from not having to worry about the paper -- I just show my ID at the pharmacy and pick up the meds for the next 3 months.

Reply Parent Score: 4

dionicio Member since:

Beneficial, indeed. And well intended. But those of Us flying around can't help but worrying about the fragile state of IT security and privacy.

Reply Parent Score: 2

jgfenix Member since:

Also if it is a medicine you take for a long period of time you don't have to return to the doctor when you need more, the prescription is automatically renewed. Also the doctors spend less time and it is VERY noticeable.

Reply Parent Score: 2