The international law firm Taylor Wessing has recently focused on the issue of protection of personal data and individual privacy in general. Its new survey investigates electronic prescriptions and their storage. As of 1 January 2018 the issuance of electronic prescriptions is required, on the basis of an amendment to the Law on Pharmaceuticals. Exceptions, where a medical prescription can still be “on paper”, are set out in the implementing legislation of the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic. Otherwise, all electronic prescriptions issued from now on will be stored in the Central Repository of Electronic Prescriptions established by the State Institute for Drug Control. Digital data on all medicines prescribed to a patient will be stored in this repository, regardless of whether the patient picked up the medication or not.
The law firm conducted a survey on a sample of 511 people and examined the frequency of their contact with the “ePrescriptions”, asking them whether they were aware of who could use the data from the central repository, whether they knew that detailed data on all the prescribed medicines to the patients were to be stored in the registry for at least 5 years and that for example the health insurance companies and the Czech Republic Police could access them (according to the Code of Criminal Procedure and with the consent of a court). The survey was conducted at the turn of July and August 2018. Commenting on the results is Karin Pomaizlová, partner of Taylor Wessing Prague and an expert on the personal data protection.Ms Pomaizlová summarizes: “More than 61% of the survey respondents said they regarded the introduction of ePrescriptions, and especially the creation of additional, state-managed electronic database on the health status and treatment of Czech citizens, as interfering with their privacy. The survey results moreover clearly show that there is still much room for deepening of awareness and clarification of this new measure, in particular on the part of the competent authorities.” Another interesting question was whether respondents knew that the health insurance companies and the Czech Republic Police could obtain a detailed description of use of any medicines thereby.
On this, Ms Pomaizlová comments: “It is surprising that almost 60% of respondents had no idea, for example, that the providers of health insurance or their authorized employees have access to the electronic database of prescriptions and information about individual patients and the medications they have been prescribed. This will be a particularly sensitive issue for public figures treated for psychiatric disorders, patients suffering sexually transmitted diseases, etc. The question is whether the current system is sufficiently robust and resistant against the information disclosure. Only 14.3% of respondents were aware of this fact and approved of it.”
The Government is currently preparing further amendments to be adopted in the next year, including introduction of so-called electronic drug record, which in practice means that all doctors, pharmacists, as well as emergency medical services on a need-to-know basis, will have access to records of the prescribed medicines. The Government proposes that the patient's consent shall be presumed by law and if a patient who will not wish these medical professionals to have access to his or her records he or she will have to opt out from the system, which requires some administrative burden and time from the patient. This will be associated with a visit of contact points (eg. CheckPoint) in order to ensure electronic identification of the patien..Pomaizlová also said: “Among the fundamental human rights enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Basic Freedoms is the right to privacy. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) effective from 25 May 2018 in all EU member states, which codifiesrules for the processing of personal data on the level of EU does not apply to the processing of personal data if a member state's parliament approves establishment of a database by law. New technologies naturally bring about many positives, but there always is a risk of abuse, whether through misuse of powers or through hacker attacks. No electronic database is 100% immune to abuse. Just as private operators must carefully weigh what personal information they will process, for what purpose, and for how long they will keep the acquired data, in order to minimise the risk of privacy intrusion, so too should the government proceed with caution and minimise risks when creating electronic databases, especially those including sensitive data on the health of individuals. Such approach could include limiting the period of data storage in the database to the time truly necessary, or limiting the access rights to the data stored therein.”
The survey, conducted by STEM / MARK, comprised 50.3% male and 49.7% female respondents. People aged 30-44 were the most involved (41.7%), followed by people aged 15-29 (nearly 29.2%) and people aged 45-59 (29.2%). In terms of education, almost 38% of respondents had high school diplomas, 26.6% had higher degrees and 22.5% had finished hig school without a leaving certificate.
V průzkumu byly zapojeny všechny kraje České republiky, kdy nejvyšším počtem respondentů bylo zastoupeno hlavní město a Středočeský kraj (26,2 %), následoval Moravskoslezský kraj a Jihomoravský kraj shodně s 11,7 %. Významné zastoupení respondentů bylo i z Ústeckého kraje, celkem 7,6 %. Další kraje se pohybovaly v rozmezí 6 – 4 % z celkového počtu odpovídajících. Nejméně respondentů bylo z Karlovarského kraje (2,5 %). Vzorek zahrnoval 511 dotazovaných. Průzkum proběhl na přelomu července a srpna 2018.
All regions of the Czech Republic were involved in the survey, with most respondents being represented by Prague and the Central Bohemian Region (26.2%), followed by the Moravian-Silesian Region and the South Moravian Region with 11.7%. A significant percentage of respondents (7.6%) were from the Ústí Region. Totals for other regions ranged from 4-6% of the total percentage. The fewest respondents were from the Karlovy Vary Region (2.5%). The sample included 511 respondents. The survey was conducted at the turn of July/August 2018.