People covered by health insurance can use the electronic patient record (ePA) – voluntarily and free of charge. This record can be used to digitally record information about a person’s health. You, as the patient, decide how long someone is granted access to your record.
At a glance
- Health insurance providers offer their insurance holders an electronic patient record (ePA) as a free app.
- The electronic patient record can be used to store personal information about health in digital format in a single place.
- This information includes test results and diagnoses, as well as medical treatment reports or information about recommended treatments.
- The electronic patient record also offers digital versions of the certificate of vaccination, maternity record, child examination booklet and dental bonus booklet.
- You alone decide which information is recorded in the electronic patient record and who can access this.
What is the electronic patient record?
At present, personal patient data is often available in a variety of places without any real clarity – often without the insured people being able to see it: some data is held by a family doctor, some by a specialist and some may even have already been lost.
The electronic patient record (ePA) enables you to manage your health data independently and in a self-determined manner: by allowing data about your health to be stored in the electronic patient record or storing it there yourself, for example information about previous health conditions, medication and test results, you can obtain a transparent overview of your health and treatments.
If you provide doctors and therapists with bundled information via the electronic patient record, these can quickly obtain a holistic picture of your current health.
This enables optimum care in all locations: in addition to hospitals, medical practices and pharmacies, the electronic patient record is also used by rehab clinics, care personnel, midwives and physiotherapists, for example, providing you grant them access.
What are electronic health records and the ePA app?
The video below explains the benefits that the electronic health record or ePA for short brings and how data is transferred.
This and other videos can also be found on YouTube.Watch now
Important: You decide for yourself whether you want to use the electronic patient record, which data is stored and deleted and who can access the file or individual documents within which time frame.
Medical data: what is saved in the electronic patient record?
You manage the electronic patient record (ePA) yourself, for example with your smartphone or tablet. You can speak to your doctor about the data you want to upload to your electronic patient record.
The following list shows examples of information that can be saved in your electronic patient record:
- test results
- treatment plans
- treatment reports/doctor’s letters
- the emergency data record
- the electronic medication treatment plan
- the certificate of vaccination
- the dental bonus booklet
- the maternity record
- the child examination booklet
- a declaration on the willingness for organ donation
- … other information
You can also add your own information, such as a pain diary or old results that you already have in paper format.
What other functions are planned for the electronic patient record?
The electronic patient record (ePA) will have several new functions from January 1, 2023. These will include:
- hospital discharge letters
- patient transfer documents (“Pflegeüberleitungsbögen”)
- lab results
- the electronic sick leave notice (eAU)
- the integration of data from digital health applications (“apps on prescription”)
- an integrated messenger for communicating with medical practices
- the connection to the health portal gesund.bund.de, which offers reliable information about health
- the ability to voluntarily provide data from the patient record in pseudonymized format for research. This act of social solidarity helps make it possible to develop new and better treatments.
What are the advantages of the electronic patient record?
The electronic patient record (ePA) is a central location for the life-long storage and collation of all personal health and treatment data that is otherwise scattered around. The electronic patient record saves this information securely and makes it available at all times.
By creating an electronic patient record as a patient and granting selected medical practices, hospitals and pharmacies access to it, your treatment history will be more comprehensible for all of those involved. For example, doctors will be able to choose a suitable treatment more quickly, repeat tests will be avoided and more time will be available for personal consultations.
In pharmacies, the electronic patient record enables personalized consultations, for example with regard to interactions between medications, incompatibilities or allergies.
How do I get my electronic patient record?
The electronic patient record (ePA) is available free of charge to people with both statutory and private health insurance. If you want to use the electronic patient record, you can request this from your health insurance provider. Health insurance providers will provide detailed information about how to register in the ePA app provided and how it works.
You can access your electronic patient record in two ways:
- ePA app: the ePA app on your smartphone or tablet allows you to read the documents saved in your ePA as well as to upload, approve or even delete new data.
- Your health insurance provider’s desktop app: this offers the same range of functions on a PC or laptop as the app for mobile devices.
But even if you do not want to use the ePA app yourself, you can still have an electronic patient record and authorize your doctor to complete it. You can use your electronic medical data card (eGK) and a corresponding PIN from your health insurance provider to authorize medical practices to access your electronic patient record, populate it with data via the practice information system and view the data in it.
On changing health insurance provider, ePA data can be taken with you in just a few clicks.
The electronic patient record for children is initially managed by the parents or a guardian. Children can manage their own electronic patient record from the age of 16 at the latest.
Who has access to the electronic patient record?
As the patient, you have complete control over your electronic patient record. You decide who has access to it, what data is stored and for how long access is granted.
For example, you may want to grant access to your general practitioner for a longer period of time but limit a specialist to access for one day. You can assign different levels of confidentiality to your documents and only grant access to specific document categories or select documents.
You grant access via the ePA app or on site at the medical practice by using your electronic medical data card and personal PIN in the card terminal.
How is data protection ensured?
The ePA file system is accessed via the telematics infrastructure, a secure, self-contained network. The servers for processing data are located in Germany and subject to European data protection regulations. All documents are end-to-end encrypted. This means that only insured persons themselves or those they grant access to can decrypt messages. Health insurance providers have no access to the contents of the electronic patient record.
The health insurance provider’s app for the electronic patient record must be approved by the system’s administrative organization Gesellschaft für Telematik (gematik). During this process, the app’s security and functionality are both checked.
Part of the approval process involves submittal of a security report, which must be created by an independent third party.
All operations and access requests are logged in the electronic patient record for one year – the last 50 entries can be viewed regardless of this period.
Further information and videos on the electronic patient record can be found on the website gematik.de.
- Bundesministerium für Gesundheit. Die elektronische Patientenakte (ePA) - Bundesgesundheitsministerium. Aufgerufen am 20.11.2021.
- gematik Fachportal. ePA – Die elektronische Akte für Patienten. Aufgerufen am 15.12.2020.
- gematik Fachportal. Informationspflicht gemäß § 314. Aufgerufen am 20.11.2021.
- gematik GmbH. E-Patientenakte. Aufgerufen am 20.11.2021.