Following the roll out of electronic prescriptions (e-prescriptions) across all of Victoria in September, the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has announced that Sydney’s five million residents will soon have access to e-prescriptions. This includes communities from Hornsby shire in the north, to the city of Campbelltown in the south and the city of Penrith in the west. After the roll out in Victoria and Sydney, there will be a staged expansion of e-prescriptions across the rest of the country.

HOW IT WORKS

If a patient wants an e-prescription from their doctor, rather than a paper prescription, the doctor selects this option in their software when creating the prescription and the patient will immediately receive an SMS or email.

The patient then sends or takes this to their preferred pharmacy.

The SMS or email contains a QR code ‘token’ that unlocks the electronic prescription from a secure, encrypted e-prescription delivery service. Once scanned, the token allows the pharmacist to view the prescription and dispense the medicine.

HOW IT WAS DONE

To prepare for e-prescriptions, more than 13,000 healthcare providers have attended online training and education sessions run by the Agency. Further support and advice has been provided by clinical peak bodies, including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM), the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA). Software providers have also provided masterclasses to their health professional customers.

WHY IT MATTERS

In Episode Three of the HIMSS Digital Dialogue Series, guest speaker Dr Nathan Pinskier commented that while it was encouraging to see the massive growth of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges still remain – for instance, how can a prescription be handed over a digital screen? This is where e-prescribing can come in to ensure a smoother patient journey when using telehealth services.

Additionally, e-prescriptions are especially handy when there are natural disasters, in which paper-based descriptions can be easily destroyed or lost. Having an e-prescription record means patients can still have access to this important information in the event of a disaster or incident.

ON THE RECORD

“There has been significant uptake of e-prescriptions since they were first made available in May; since then, nearly 400,000 e-prescriptions have been received by patients,” said Amanda Cattermole, CEO of AHDA.

Western Sydney pharmacy owner and NSW Pharmacy Guild and National Councillor Catherine Bronger said, “Community pharmacies across Sydney have been working to upgrade their dispensing software and review their in-pharmacy workflow to get ready for e-prescriptions. The Guild looks forward to further releases of electronic prescriptions functionality providing more convenience for patients, especially those who are on multiple medicines.”

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