The push for a national real-time prescription monitoring system has gained momentum, with an Australian firm appointed to develop it. 

The Department of Health has selected pharmacy IT solutions provider, Fred IT Group, to lead the new national system, which aims to reduce the impact of prescription medicine overdoses.

As part of the agreement, Fred IT is expected to design, build and deliver the software system for the National Data Exchange (NDE) component. 

This includes collaborating with medical and pharmacy software vendors and jurisdictions in the delivery of a consistent user experience for health professionals practicing in different environments and to reflect individual state and territory requirements in the national system.

The move follows Fred IT’s development of SafeScript, a Victorian real-time prescription monitoring system, as part of a $29.5 million State Government investment. That system began its roll-out earlier this month.

Safescript uses each pharmacy’s Prescription Exchange Service (PES) to automatically transmits prescription records for high-risk medicines to a centralised database in real-time. Prescribers and pharmacists are then able to receive pop-up notifications to review a patient’s history in SafeScript.

The SafeScript roll-out was started in the Western Victoria Primary Health Network catchment area, and is expected to extend across the state in early 2019. 

According to Fred IT, its experience with SafeScript is crucial in its extension of real-time prescription monitoring to health professionals in all states and territories.

Fred IT CEO and pharmacist Paul Naismith said a national system would make medication management safer and more effective for all Australians.

“I have seen first-hand the anguish that accidental prescription drug overdose can cause to families who have lost loved ones, and am honoured that Fred can take part in developing eHealth systems to reduce the devastating impact of prescription overdose and misuse throughout the community,” Naismith said. 

According to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2016, there were 1808 deaths in Australia as a result of prescription medicine overdoses. 

The introduction of a national approach to real-time prescription monitoring will help prevent prescription medication misuse and save lives through the use of a two-pronged approach: providing health professionals with accurate and up-to-date clinical data about patient prescriptions, and enabling doctors and pharmacists with a platform that identifies and supports patients at risk.

Telstra Health Managing Director Mary Foley added that having a national prescription safety system is a “significant development that will save lives”. 

“Platforms such as this leverage our rapidly digitising healthcare environment to connect healthcare silos, and will support providers to improve medication safety in the community,” Foley said. 

Telstra Health bought a 50 per cent stake in Fred IT, in October 2013, in a deal estimated to be worth around $25 million.

 

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