Electronic Prescriptions: Enabling Health Care Reform in Ukraine
In April 2019, the USAID Safe, Affordable, and Effective Medicines for Ukrainians (SAFEMed) Activity supported the National Health Service of Ukraine with the introduction of electronic prescriptions, also known as e-prescriptions, to complement and advance Ukraine's medicines reimbursement program. At little or no cost, patients can access select medicines, which family doctors electronically prescribe, to treat cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, or bronchial asthma. A year after the introduction of e-prescriptions, more than 20,000 family doctors in Ukraine issue e-prescriptions daily, and 6,500 pharmacies fill them for more than 2 million patients. On average, over 4,000 patients receive an e-prescription every day.
In line with Ukraine’s health care reform strategy, SAFEMed supported the transition of Ukraine’s state medicines reimbursement program from the Ministry of Health to the National Health Service of Ukraine (NHSU) in 2019. This transition period was a perfect opportunity to update the program and spur new innovations.
The introduction of e-prescriptions was not the only change during the program’s shift to the NHSU, but became it’s most recognizable, signature component. Designed and implemented to support real-time data collection for the NHSU, e-prescriptions help provide better services to patients and health care professionals who use the reimbursement program and allow for more sophisticated budget control. Building on the success of an affordable medicines program and the e-prescription system, Ukrainian health care officials are developing a strategy to include new fraud detection and prevention modules, as well as new patient routes, including those for insulin-dependent patients.
Iryna Lishtaba, head of the division of contractual work with pharmacies for the NHSU, affirms that as the single health care payer, the NHSU benefits from greater transparency and more accurate forecasting. “For the first time, decisions in the Ukrainian health system are made based on reliable, real-time data. The introduction of e-prescriptions is a giant step toward achieving Universal Health Coverage in Ukraine.”
Inspired by this success, Ukrainian health care officials are currently expanding the strategy for the reimbursement program, with assistance from USAID’s SAFEMed project led by Management Sciences for Health in Ukraine since 2017.