Electronic Prescribing provides an alternative for prescribers and their patients separate from the traditional paper-based prescription system. Numerous benefits but also concerns have been discussed.
How Electronic Prescribing Can Help Pharmacies
Electronic Prescribing is an option for prescribers and their patients to choose to have an electronic prescription instead of a traditional paper-based prescription.
Electronic Prescribing was identified as part of the 2018-19 Federal Budget of $28.2 million over five years to implement the national electronic prescribing system. The Australian Digital Health Agency is collaborating with the Department of Health, the Department of Human Services, and industry stakeholders to deliver this system.
The system is perceived as a key priority to improve the efficiency, compliance, drug safety and data collection of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medications.
In line with the National Digital Health Strategy, Electronic Prescribing will aim to have digitally enabled paper-free options for all medications management in Australia in 2020. One of the key benefits of the system is that it allows people to manage prescriptions electronically. This will increase convenience and improve medication safety for patients.
The implementation of Electronic Prescribing will require the development of regulatory frameworks, as well as changes to existing systems and software that will enable the safe and secure use of an electronic prescription system as a legal alternative to a paper prescription.
The changes will adhere to a number of principles for Electronic Prescribing:
- Security of patient information (privacy)
- Integrity of prescription data (Safety)
- Continues to support patient choice of prescriber
- Continues to support patient choice of pharmacy
- Electronic and paper prescriptions will co-exist as the legal form of the prescription
- National Electronic Prescribing framework
- Support existing PBS polices
- Leveraging the existing assets and capabilities
New amendments to the rules for PBS claims will provide the legislative framework for prescribers and their patients to have the option to use an electronic prescription as an alternative to the paper-based prescription.
It also sets the rules for how electronic prescription should be differentiated from paper ones. This includes mandatory information that would be required from approved suppliers in relation to the supply of pharmaceutical benefits with electronic prescription.
The key change is that the active ingredient of the medicine must be listed on the electronic PBS prescription, not the current practice of stating only the brand name.
This is also one of the Federal Government's initiatives directed at managing the uptake of generic medicines.
According to the legislation, the decision for either a paper or electronic prescription will be made at the point of prescribing.
And in order to prevent and avoid duplication, any subsequent change to a different format (from paper to electronic or vice versa) would require cancellation of the existing prescription and a new script.
The amendment has been enacted, but there is still further work required before the system is fully up and running.
CEO of Fred IT Group, which runs the eRx Script Exchange, said that while the e-prescription network has already existed for 10 years, this legislation means paper scripts are no longer required.
According to the timeline, small-scale deployments should occur early next year with additional roll-outs planned after that.
The system offers significant benefits for patients and medical practitioners.
Doctors will no longer need to print and sign scripts if the patient chooses to have them electronically.
For pharmacists, a lot of the benefits will come from reducing transcription and retyping. It also makes it safer because there will be less room for errors in the process.
The system also aims to improve the level of efficiency for the pharmacists, since no longer having to put claims stickers on paper and file will normally take a fair amount of time.
Less administrative time means that more time is spent providing professional services and medical advice to patients.
Regarding privacy and security risks, Fred IT Group said there will have to be appropriate measures in place to ensure cyber security.
It is important that patients will be able to choose between paper and electronic prescriptions, if they are not comfortable with their information being used in such a way they can choose to keep the paper-based prescription.
What do you think about the new changes for Electronic Prescribing? We would love to hear from you.
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