E-prescription system goes offline

Doctors and pharmacists will have to write prescriptions by hand after Greece?s recently launched electronic prescription system, designed to cut down on waste and corruption, suffered more technical problems on Tuesday.

The Computer Center for Social Security Services (IDIKA), which oversees the e-prescription scheme, said that the problems were the result of the contractor not providing adequate technical assistance. IDIKA said that the system would remain offline until Sunday.

So far, 38,000 doctors and 10,800 pharmacies had been using the system to record an average of 140,000 prescriptions a day. The drugs recorded on the e-prescription scheme each day were worth about 6.6 million euros.

IDIKA managing director Vlassis Sfyroeras said that the program?s software would be updated to ensure that the scheme runs smoothly from next week.

However, IDIKA?s assurances were rejected by Theodoros Abatzoglou, the head of the Panhellenic Pharmacists? Association, who said the e-prescription was flawed. ?It is shoddy work that was rushed through and has to be fixed all the time,? he said. Doctors have complained before that the system crashes during peak hours.

The electronic prescription scheme has been plagued by problems since its launch. Last month, it was the subject of an attack by hackers. Doctors were unable to use the system after hackers managed to block the online service by uploading about 1.5 million fake prescriptions.

Sfyroeras said that hackers from the USA, Argentina, Sweden, Czech Republic, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Israel, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Malaysia attacked the site, causing the equivalent of 3.4 million page views, which resulted in the system overloading.

The attacks took place on April 6, 7 and 9. Sfyroeras said the attack did not lead to any personal information being stolen.

The incident is being investigated by the financial crimes squad (SDOE).