News

ePrescribing now available for majority of Australians


Matt Woodley


3/03/2021 3:22:31 PM

More than 3.5 million electronic prescriptions and repeats have already been generated by prescribers and dispensers across the country.

Illustration of electronic prescription
Nearly 12,000 GPs have engaged in ePrescribing since May 2020.

The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has said it is ‘now confident’ that any patient who prefers an electronic prescription (ePrescription) should be able to have it dispensed at their local community pharmacy.
 
The declaration was made in a recent communique that also revealed that nearly 12,000 GPs have engaged in ePrescribing, while more than 95% of all Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)-approved community pharmacies are dispensing ePrescriptions.
 
Dr David Adam, a representative of the RACGP Expert Committee – Practice Technology and Management (REC–PTM), told newsGP the availability of ePrescribing will ‘definitely’ improve convenience and safety for patients.
 
‘It’s been a project that’s been in the works a long time and it’s really good to see that it’s coming to fruition,’ he said. ‘There’s been a lot of hard work by doctors and pharmacists and software developers.’
 
But Dr Adam is not certain whether all patients will be able to access ePrescribing just yet.
 
‘Obviously, they’re still rolling out across Australia,’ he said
 
‘As far as I know, we don’t have any here in Western Australia yet … [but] I’m pretty positive about the impact.’
 
While the practise continues to expand in use and popularity, Dr Adam said it remains crucial for GPs to contact their local pharmacy to ensure it has the capacity to handle ePrescriptions before writing one up for a patient.
 
‘And just make sure patients really understand that they’re only going to be able to go to pharmacies that are enabled for electronic prescribing,’ he said.
 
‘The other thing GPs need to think about is the potential costs in the future. At the moment, supply of SMS has been underwritten by the Department of Health. But that’s doesn’t sound like it’s going to last forever.
 
‘So GPs need to just be aware that there are going to be some costs incurred around electronic prescribing in the future.’
 
February has also seen the first set of pharmacies testing out the Active Script List (ASL), which contains all active prescriptions and repeats available to be dispensed. For those patients who want to use an ASL, this will in future remove the need for them to retain their ePrescription tokens.
 
However, even though ePrescribing will continue to expand in availability and convenience into the future, Dr Adam says there will still likely be instances where it won’t be available.
 
‘While GPs mostly use computer-generated prescriptions still, one wrinkle in the current system is that there’s no kind of lightweight [portable] equivalent of the script pad,’ he said.
 
‘We’re hoping that that’ll change … [but] if I’m doing home visits and things of that nature, I’ll still be writing handwritten prescriptions for the foreseeable future.’
 
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Dr Katy Lees   4/03/2021 6:43:14 AM

My patients alone go to over 20 different pharmacies so contacting them re epresribing abilities is time consuming and checking back eg monthly to see about change of status even more time spent!


Dr Daniel Thomas Byrne   4/03/2021 7:57:24 AM

Be aware that the initial eScript SMS from the GP only covers the first supply. Any repeats have to be issued by the pharmacist as a new SMS. Many pharmacies are not aware that is their responsibility and patients are caught out trying to use the original GP SMS for the next repeat. Each SMS is good for one single supply.


Dr Jeffrey Ian Willcox   4/03/2021 9:15:41 AM

It is still not available for those of us who use Genie....they say it is coming in April but have not shown any sign of urgency in getting this key development rolled out. And we have over 600 pharmacies in our address book- I certainly won't be calling them to check if they are dispensing. I'll be relying on the 95% participation rate quoted in the article, thanks!


Dr Jeffrey Ian Willcox   4/03/2021 1:11:18 PM

It is still not available for those of us who use Genie....they say it is coming in April but have not shown any sign of urgency in getting this key development rolled out. And we have over 600 pharmacies in our address book- I certainly won't be calling them to check if they are dispensing. I'll be relying on the 95% participation rate quoted in the article, thanks!