NSW to follow Victoria in rollout of ePrescribing

Morgan Liotta

21/10/2020 3:58:33 PM

The announcement gives software providers the greenlight to ensure general practices and pharmacies in Sydney are ready for the change.

Medicine and QR code
More than 13,000 healthcare providers have so far attended ADHA training sessions to prepare for a national ePrescribing rollout.

After software delays with some pharmacies, Victoria rolled out electronic prescribing (ePrescribing) in September to fast-track better access for patients requiring prescriptions during the COVID lockdown.
Now, NSW is set to follow, with residents across greater Sydney having access to electronic prescriptions, including communities from Hornsby shire in the north to the city of Campbelltown in the south, and the city of Penrith in the west.
A staged expansion across Australia is expected through collaboration with the Department of Health, Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA), the Pharmacy Guild and representatives of the RACGP.
More than 13,000 healthcare providers have already attended online ADHA-facilitated training and education sessions to prepare for the ePrescribing rollout.
ADHA CEO Amanda Cattermole said the collaboration means that when ePrescribing becomes available in communities, doctors and pharmacists will be prepared and able to support their patients.
Ms Cattermole also said that implementation of the model as an interim solution during COVID-19 proved successful.
‘There has been significant uptake of electronic prescriptions since they were first made available in in May. Since then, nearly 400,000 electronic prescriptions have been received by patients,’ she said.
Dr David Adam is a Perth GP and RACGP Expert Committee – Practice Technology and Management (REC–PTM) Representative.
He told newsGP that ePrescribing is one of the few initiatives that people are ‘genuinely excited about’.
‘I gave a presentation to some doctors and although some may be a little change resistant, they were all keen. It’s definitely something most want to get access to,’ Dr Adam said.
‘The main reasons they are keen is to support the new telehealth initiatives. It will also be faster, more efficient and convenient for prescribers and for patients. And for those of us doing home visits or other forms of home care, there are significant benefits around efficiency there as well.’
Dr Adam also notes the benefits of reducing waste, saying that at his practice they shed somewhere between 4–5 kg of paper each week on printed prescriptions.
‘So we will be able to save a lot of time, energy and resources once electronic prescribing is rolled out,’ he said.
Speaking to newsGP in August on the Victorian rollout of ePrescribing, REC–PTM Chair Dr Rob Hosking said the system is dependent on both general practices and pharmacies having updated medical software. Pharmacies also need to be physically set up to receive the prescriptions.
Dr Adam agrees that a close partnership with GP prescribers and local dispensing pharmacies is essential, particularly as some processes will be different for each.
‘It would be really helpful if GPs are keen to get involved, speak to your local pharmacy and make sure they’re aware [ePrescribing] is coming,’ he said.
‘Both GPs and pharmacists need the software support, but there’s no doubt that the workflow changes definitely have more of an impact on pharmacies than they do on most general practices.
‘So making pharmacies aware that you’re interested and it’s coming, and speaking to their software vendors and making sure you’re speaking to yours and doing what you need to do to be ready.
‘The ADHA training materials for prescribers and dispensing pharmacies are good resources to help explore what GPs need to do with their local pharmacists.’

Dr David Adam says ePrescribing will be faster and more convenient for prescribers and their patients.

General practices and pharmacies outside Victoria and greater Sydney are also being advised by the ADHA to prepare for a broader rollout by getting software ready and participate in training opportunities being provided by the agency, peak bodies and software providers.
Dr Adam says this is good preparation to supporting implementation and uncover any issues.
‘[For example,] with the current system you get a text message for each different medication, and one of the concerns is that if a patient is on a lot of medications it could be easy to get the tokens mixed up, accidently delete them or have trouble working out which one is to be filled,’ he said.
‘The mobile apps coming out to help with prescription management and the Active Script List, which is in development at the moment, will be able to help with that. There will be some challenges, but they should be able to be smoothed out along the way.’
With a national rollout of ePrescribing on the cards, Victoria and NSW will lead as examples to help identify and resolve any teething problems, according to Dr Adam.
‘Assuming it all goes well [in Victoria and NSW], that will give us in other states more confidence for a national rollout. Everyone wants it yesterday, but the idea to first manage any concerns people have is feasible,’ he said.
‘We are all keen to get it in Western Australia, even though it could be a while yet.
‘It does help, particularly getting more GPs and dispensing pharmacies involved, and eventually maybe hospitals and specialist prescribers as well.’
The RACGP’s electronic prescribing page includes resources for GPs and patients.
Log in below to join the conversation.

eHealth electronic prescribing New South Wales

newsGP weekly poll What area of medicine do you find most difficult to stay across the changing clinical evidence?

newsGP weekly poll What area of medicine do you find most difficult to stay across the changing clinical evidence?



Login to comment

Dr Gerald Raymond Segal   22/10/2020 8:14:41 PM

Think very carefully before taking the plunge. You, the GP prescriber, are going to be charged 6cents per item for the token generated - that equates to $6000 to $12,000 per year - depending on the number of items, not scripts, you generate. If you are rich or don't care about further imposts on your earnings - well then maybe go ahead.
BUT think about how your patients are going to manage these multiple tokens on their phones. Don't loose them, keep them in order with all your other SMS's - remember scripts are valid for 12 months - patients will need to manage and not loose them for that period. Otherwise they will be back to you for another script - for which YOU pay.
E prescribing, a great idea - but fatally flawed in the implementation