Author: Geraldine Critchley

pharma4u relies on qualified electronic signatures

The German pharmacy software provider has partnered with Swisscom Trust Services to offer its customers legally compliant, paperless prescription documentation that adheres to pharmacy operating regulations.


pharma4u was initially established as an educational software provider for pharmacy students. However, the company has shifted its focus towards assisting pharmacies in their digitalization efforts. Their range of products includes MediCheck and LabXpert.

MediCheck provides pharmacies with medication management services. Patients who permanently take five or more medications can benefit from this service at no cost, receiving guidance from their pharmacy regarding potential adjustments, side effects, or alternative medications. Together with the treating physician, the therapy can be optimized. Pharma4u's LabXpert software also assists their customers in preparing and documenting prescriptions and custom-made medications per doctors' instructions.

"Our company's goal is to assist local pharmacies in enhancing their role as service providers in the healthcare system. This presents both opportunities and challenges. Introducing new services for patients also leads to increased complexity in administration. Pharmacists can effectively manage this complexity by prioritizing digitization. We provide secure and compliant implementation support to help them achieve this transformation", says Simon Häußler, Managing Director of pharma4u GmbH for software development and organization.


The challenge of legally compliant digital documentation

Since an amendment in 2012, the German Pharmacy Operating Regulations have stipulated extensive documentation requirements for all medicines prepared by pharmacists on prescription. This amendment aimed to guarantee consistent quality across all pharmacies in Germany. However, this innovation has resulted in pharmacists having to invest significant effort into documentation. They are now required to create, sign, and archive a detailed protocol for everything they produce, whether ointments, capsules, or other medications.

This process cannot be easily digitized since pharmacists' handwritten signatures are necessary for authentication. Nevertheless, according to the European eIDAS Regulation, the qualified electronic signature has the same legal value as a handwritten signature. Therefore, it was essential for pharma4u to integrate this feature into the digital process.


Implementation with Swisscom Trust Services

pharma4u initially evaluated several electronic signature providers. One of the critical factors considered was the cost structure, as Simon Häußler explains: "We ruled out a billing model where each signature is charged individually because of the large volume of documents in pharmacies. After all, at least one digital document must be signed and archived for each prescription. Swisscom convinced us with an appealing offer in this regard. Furthermore, their comprehensive API documentation and extensive testing options also favored choosing this provider."

Pharmacists have the convenience of completing the initial identification needed for using the QES through video identification. Simply using their identity card is all that is required.

Users of the LabXpert software can enjoy one free signature slot, and they can also book additional slots as needed. Several hundred pharmacies in Germany are already using electronic signatures for their prescription documentation, and pharma4u has exciting plans for a more extensive rollout in the coming months.

"When showcasing the QES at trade fairs, we have received tremendous interest from the industry. This overwhelming response leads us to believe that the number of users will continue to grow. Based on our positive experiences, we are open to collaborating with Swisscom Trust Services on future projects,"  Häußler concludes.