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ePrescribing

Under the National Health Plan for COVID-19, the Australian Government has accelerated the delivery of electronic prescribing to help protect people most at-risk in our community from exposure to COVID-19.

What you need to know about electronic prescribing.

Electronic Prescribing (ePrescribing) will provide an option for prescribers and their patients to have an electronic prescription (eScript) as an alternative to a paper-based prescription.

ePrescribing is the process by which a prescription is electronically generated by a prescriber using software which conforms to stringent specifications. Only an authorised prescriber can generate an electronic prescription, which is then securely transmitted to a prescription delivery service. The electronic prescription is then available for dispensing and supply through any dispensing software that conforms to the appropriate requirements.

Electronic prescribing is not mandatory, and patients and prescribers will be able to choose electronic or paper prescriptions.

Software vendors are currently working towards implementing electronic prescribing functionality in their clinical systems. It is recommended that practices consider upgrading to the latest version of their clinical system to allow more time for your practice to adapt quickly to the new electronic prescribing functionality once it becomes available.

The Australian Digital Health Agency has published a new page on electronic prescribing which explains how the process will work. There are also dedicated pages for prescribers and dispensers.

What are the benefits of electronic prescribing?

  • Improved patient safety by reducing the risk of transcription errors;
  • Improved practitioner workflow efficiencies by reducing unnecessary paperwork;
  • Choice of prescription format that suits patient preference;
  • Potential for new or alternative digital health services and initiatives into the future;
  • Reduced prescription misuse through increased data available for real-time monitoring; and
  • Support the future of digital health innovation.

When will it be available?

  • Work to upgrade health care providers’ clinical software to allow electronic prescribing is well underway and is expected to be ready by late 2020.
  • The Commonwealth Department of Health (DoH) is leading the work to enable electronic prescribing and has overall accountability for the electronic prescribing project. The DoH has partnered with the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) to develop the technical components of the project, supporting the legal prescribing and dispensing of medicines and subsequent Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) claiming from electronic prescriptions.
  • Not all software vendors will have upgrades available for their clients at the same time. This means your prescribing/dispensing software provider will work with you to plan and introduce this new capability and minimise any potential downtime to your business.

Readiness checklist: What you can do now?

  • Ensure your practice has Healthcare Provider Identifier-Organisation (HPI-O) and is connected to the Healthcare Identifiers (HI) service. This is a core requirement for electronic prescribing
  • Ensure your practice is connected to Prescription Delivery Service (eRx/MediSecure)
  • Update your patients’ and their carers’ contact details on file (mobile and email)
  • Make sure local pharmacy details are up to date in your clinical software
  • Subscribe to your software provider’s newsletters and correspondence
  • Stay up to date with communications from peak organisations
  • Keep your staff informed about electronic prescribing and how they may respond to questions from patients
  • Stay up to date with relevant State and Territory legislative amendments
  • Check the Australian Digital Health Agency website for electronic prescribing information and updates

Interim arrangements for e-prescribing to support telehealth

Ahead of the introduction of electronic prescribing later in the year, please be aware interim arrangements are now in place for prescribing to make supply of medicine more convenient following a telehealth consultation.  Under the interim arrangements, a digital image (such as a photo, scan or pdf) of a prescription can be sent electronically by the prescriber to the patient’s pharmacy of choice. This electronic copy can be used by the pharmacy to supply the medicine and claim from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in the same way as a paper prescription.

The Australian Government has announced the interim arrangements for prescribing will remain in place until 30 September 2020, or until full electronic prescribing rollout is implemented.

More information can be found on the Dept of Health website.

Additional Resources

For more information about electronic prescribing and electronic prescriptions, see:

Digital health resources for General Practice

A library of digital health resources for specialists is now available at digitalhealth.immij.com

Please contact your Practice Support Officer for login details.