All states and territories, except Queensland, have passed regulatory changes to make electronic prescriptions legally available.
All states and territories, except Queensland, have passed regulatory changes to make electronic prescriptions legally available.

Explained: Paperless prescriptions from your doctor

PAPERLESS prescriptions are now available in NSW and pharmacists are happy about the idea.

There are two ways doctors can issue electronic prescriptions.

1. Token: A doctor writes an electronic prescription and sends a unique QR barcode known as a 'token' via an app, SMS or email to the patient's phone.

This QR code is like a 'key' to the legal electronic document sitting in the secure Prescription Delivery Service.

Patients then take their phone to the pharmacist, and the QR code 'token' is used to access the electronic prescription information from an encrypted and secure electronic prescription delivery service.

A family member or agent can collect medicines for the patient, but they will need the token with the barcode.

2. Active Script List: The prescriptions are held in a secure Prescription Delivery Service and instead of requiring a token, patients access them by proving your identity at the pharmacy.

Only the Token Model will be available initially, with progressive rollout to include the Active Script List Model expected to be available from the end of September 2020.

 

What a text message with an electronic prescription looks likes. Source: Supplied
What a text message with an electronic prescription looks likes. Source: Supplied

 

The first electronically transmitted prescription was filled on May 6 in Australia in Victoria.

Like telehealth, electronic prescribing was fast-tracked early on in the COVID-19 pandemic in a bid to keep people safe by reducing the need to attend their healthcare providers in person.

But while telehealth is able to take place over existing phone or video call services, electronic prescribing has involved building a safe digital communication channel for prescriptions.

All states and territories, except Queensland, have now passed their regulatory changes necessary to roll out electronic prescriptions.

The National President of the Pharmacy Guild, George Tambassis, said electronic prescriptions are a welcome technological innovation.

"They help to reduce the risk of errors that can be associated with written prescriptions, including misinterpretation and illegible instructions," he said.

"Another positive of electronic prescriptions is that once they are bedded-in and integrated into the pharmacy's workflow, they cut administrative work for health professionals, freeing up time to devote to patient welfare.

In the meantime, paper prescriptions are not disappearing. Both paper and electronic prescriptions will continue to be available.


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