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Safety belt for medication: IT solution from Siemens and the Representatives of the Austrian Pharmacist Association reduce incorrect medication in Austria


Munich, Preventing unnecessary prescriptions for medication and precluding unwanted interactions: with the patients’ consent, Austria’s pharmacists can now obtain an overview of their entire medication, regardless of which doctor it was prescribed by and in which pharmacy it was dispensed. This makes purchase of medications safer for the consumer and slashes costs for the healthcare system as a whole. Siemens IT Solutions and Services is responsible for developing software application which pharmacists can use to check and store prescribed medications. The database and the application are operated at the data center of the Pharmazeutischen Gehaltskasse of Austria’s pharmacists.

The e-card, a chip card containing personal data, has been in use in Austria for the last three years. It plays a key role in the Austrian healthcare system, where doctors, hospitals and social insurance agencies are electronically networked. Siemens IT Solutions and Services was responsible for implementing the IT infrastructure.

Now, pharmacies in Austria are also being linked to the system and equipped with card readers and PCs. When patients present their e-card, the system checks the medications against the database, regardless of whether the items are purchased over-the-counter or on a prescription. When medications have been prescribed twice or lead to unwanted interactions, the Siemens system automatically issues a warning. The pharmacist can then change the medication and avoid problems before they occur.

The year-long pilot project in Salzburg demonstrated the benefits of the system, known as the “medication safety belt“: with the around 175,000 dispensed medications, there were more than 26,000 cases of duplicate prescriptions and interactions. These cases were detected and any problems prevented. “If these figures from Salzburg are projected to include the whole of Austria, the potential savings on medications are as high as 230 million euros“, says Heinrich Burggasser, President of the Austrian Chamber of Pharmacists.

The medications dispensed to the patient can only be viewed in the database and cannot be retrieved from the e-card. A data protection certificate has been specially developed for this purpose, and has already been tested and approved by the Austrian Data Protection Committee.

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Siemens IT Solutions and Services is an internationally leading provider of IT solutions and services. It covers the entire IT service chain from a single source, from consulting to system integration, right through to the management of IT infrastructures. In addition, Siemens IT Solutions and Services extends the range of offerings of the other Siemens Sectors to include IT solutions. With its comprehensive know-how and industry-specific knowledge, Siemens IT Solutions and Services provides measurable added value for its customers. Founded in January 2007, the new Siemens Division employs more than 41,000 people and posts annual sales of about 5.3 billion euros, of which over 70 percent are generated outside of the Siemens Sectors. More information at:


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