Electronic Prescribing and Dispensing of Medicines
Electronic prescribing and dispensing of medicines is a key eHealth initiative aimed at improving the delivery and quality of health care and achieving better health outcomes
What is it?Electronic prescribing and dispensing enables all stages of the prescribing, supply of medicine and claiming process to be completed electronically. It will provide an alternative to the current paper based prescription system. Prescriptions will be created and signed electronically by prescribers.
The new, streamlined process will allow for a prescription to be entered electronically by a medical practitioner, authenticated via an electronic signature, and transmitted securely for dispensing by a pharmacy. The pharmacy can then make claims electronically to Medicare Australia.
What are the benefits?Electronic prescribing and dispensing has the potential to deliver a range of real benefits including:
- Improved confidentiality and security of medication information;
- Better clarity and communication of prescription information;
- Rapid information exchange;
- Increased time with patients for health professionals due to less paperwork;
- Reduction in medication and dispensing errors;
- Decline in adverse drug events; and
- Reduction in fraud risks present in the paper-based process.
Whats NewThe Department of Health and Ageing and the National eHealth Transition Authority (NEHTA) are currently working closely with state and territory governments, pharmacists, clinicians, consumers and software vendors to progress key technical specifications and standards to enable nationally consistent electronic prescribing and dispensing solutions.
On 23 December 2010, NEHTA released the Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (ETP)Package 1.1. The suite of documents includes national specifications designed to support the electronic transfer of prescriptions.
The Department of Health and Ageing, NEHTA and Medicare Australia are developing a process to support PBS online claiming.
The next ETP specification release will focus on extending the transfer of prescriptions to a wider range of settings including hospitals and residential aged care.
NEHTA is working closely with Standards Australia to progress development of the specifications through the Standards Australia process.
In their efforts to improve safety and quality across the Australian health care system, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care and NEHTA have developed a toolkit for the safe implementation of electronic prescribing and dispensing in hospitals.
More information on the toolkit is available from: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/safety/publishing.nsf/Content/PriorityProgram-08_ePrescribing
The Department of Health and Ageing is working closely with the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) to establish a coordinated and consistent approach in the development of national ePrescribing.
ProgressCommonwealth legislative barriers to electronic prescribing and dispensing of PBS medicines have been removed by implementing changes to the National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Amendment Regulations 2006. The regulatory amendments became effective on 1 March 2007. In addition to Commonwealth legislative amendments, state and territory legislative barriers have been identified and are currently being removed to align with the Commonwealth amendments and to provide the rules for electronic prescribing and dispensing in each jurisdiction.
The National eHealth Strategy (Dec 2008) outlines a national approach to electronic prescription transfers and medication management. When implemented, a person’s individual electronic health record will include a list of their current medications. This information may help to reduce adverse events, improve service delivery and ensure that consumers do not have to remember or repeat information as they navigate the health system.
In July 2009, the final report of the National Health and Hospital Reform Commission (NHHRC) made a number of recommendations relating to eHealth including that:
- electronic prescribing and medication management capability should be prioritised and coordinated nationally, perhaps by development of existing applications (such as PBS online), to reduce medication incidents and facilitate consumer amenity (p. 250).
By 2012 every Australian should be able to have a personal electronic health record that will at all times be owned and controlled by that person (p.247) and a national consultation process is presently underway regarding the NHHRC report recommendations. The Department of Health and Ageing has set up a website to facilitate engagement and consultation on health reform and your experiences and ideas will contribute to future decisions on ways to improve the health system. For more information please visit the yourHealth website at http://www.yourhealth.gov.au.
Work is currently underway developing key standards, finalising jurisdictional legislative amendments, and establishing a national health information regulatory framework. These steps will enable a full-scale national electronic prescribing and dispensing implementation.
Frequently Asked Questions on electronic prescribing and dispensing of medicines.
National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Amendment Regulations 2006 (ComLaw website)
National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Amendment regulations (PDF 98 KB)
National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Amendment Regulations 2006 – Explanatory Statement (ComLaw website)
National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Amendment Regulations 2006 - Explanatory Statement (PDF 80 KB)
If you have any difficulty accessing the PDFs, please contact PACDWEB@health.gov.au
Who can I contact?
PBS Information Line
1800 020 613
ePrescribing Mail Box
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