New contract secures immediate future of subsidised ePrescriptions

Morgan Liotta

16/05/2023 4:52:10 PM

The deal means practices will not incur transaction costs for sending a prescription token or repeat token via SMS or email.

Pharmacist scanning electronic script
Between May 2020 and March 2023, more than 122 million ePrescriptions have been issued by prescribers.

The Department of Health and Aged Care (DoH) has struck a deal that will continue ePrescription subsidies for what is expected to be at least the next four years.
The provision is part of a $111.8 million agreement with Fred IT to provide the national electronic prescribing delivery service and follows consistent RACGP calls to establish a sustainable and effective funding model that does not impose additional costs on general practice.
Dr David Adam, member of the RACGP Expert Committee – Practice Technology and Management (REC–PTM), told newsGP the new contract is a win for GPs.
‘Our patients, GPs, and our colleagues in pharmacies have found electronic prescribing enormously helpful over the last three years and it’s important no barriers are introduced which might affect its use,’ he said.
‘The RACGP continues to advocate against the introduction of fees and for patient choice, where possible, between paper and electronic prescriptions.
‘During the initial development of electronic prescribing, there was a thought that there would be multiple parties interested in providing prescription exchange services.
‘However, the presumed benefits have not been realised and it makes sense that the Government provide these services whether internally or contracted out.’
Using eRx Script Exchange, the service will work with software vendors, GP prescribers and pharmacies to move to the new arrangements – which have scaled up to meet an expected increase in demand – and ensure ongoing access to a secure ePrescription network.
According to the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA), more than 122 million ePrescriptions had been issued between May 2020 and March 2023 by more than 56,000 prescribers, including GPs and nurse practitioners.
Dr Steven Kaye, who also sits on the REC–PTM told newsGP that while there is still no news about the permanency of the subsidised service, it will help GPs.
‘It is a wonderful way to prescribe electronically, and it’s wonderful that it can be either by text message or by email,’ he said.  
‘The new system will remove a key barrier to adoption for pharmacies as they will no longer have to reconcile individual invoicing and PBS online payments for electronic prescriptions.
‘[All this is] really great, but we [do still] need that consistency and permanency of the SMSs being subsidised to really embed it solidly into our workflow, for both doctors’ and patients’ benefit.’
For GPs already using clinical information systems using eRX, the RACGP has confirmed that no action is required.
For GPs using systems that are connected via electronic prescribing system Medisecure, it is anticipated their software vendor will be in touch advising them of what is required and what scripts are valid as part of the transition by 1 July, when eRX will become the service provider.
‘As the plan stands, this will hopefully have minimal impact on GPs,’ Dr Adam said.
‘The practices using Medisecure should hear from their vendors in due course.’
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Dr Christopher David Mitchell, AM   17/05/2023 8:09:43 PM

How I read this is eRx is getting a free kick from the feds and we get no choice but to support a guild product

Makes me sad not happy