Digital health

for health professionals

The latest information about digital health innovation

Digital use of Prescriptions

Imaged based prescriptions for Telehealth

The Commonwealth Government’s National Health (COVID-19 Supply of Pharmaceutical Benefits) Special Arrangement 2020 (the PBS Special Arrangement) has made temporary changes to medicines regulation to make the supply of medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic more convenient and effective. One of the measures in the PBS Special Arrangement amends the usual rules for prescribing under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to allow supply of a medicine on a digital image of a prescription and provide an alternative to posting prescriptions.

To support this measure, an amendment has been made to Queensland’s legislation, the Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996 (HDPR) that:

  • Enables a prescriber to send a digital image of a prescription to a dispenser; and
  • Gives a temporary exemption from the requirement to send paper copies of prescriptions to dispensers, other than prescriptions for controlled (Schedule 8) drugs, restricted drugs of dependency (e.g. benzodiazepines) and anabolic steroids.

Read the fact sheet on imaged based prescriptions here. 

Electronic Prescriptions

Electronic prescribing is a completely new way of working that does not involve traditional printed prescriptions.

Electronic prescriptions will improve medicines safety and provide new options and convenience for patients and their medicine supply. Under the National Health Plan for COVID-19, the Australian Government has accelerated the delivery of electronic prescribing and will be progressively available starting from the end of May 2020.

The Commonwealth Department of Health (the Department) is leading the work to enable electronic prescribing in partnership with the Australian Digital Health Agency. The Department is also working with State and Territory governments to ensure electronic prescriptions can be made available across Australia.

Electronic prescribing will not be mandatory, patients will have a choice to receive either an electronic or a paper prescription from their prescriber (but not both). Electronic prescribing will continue to support a patient’s right to choose their prescriber and pharmacy to supply their medicines. Both electronic and paper prescriptions will need to comply with the relevant Commonwealth and State and Territory legislation requirements.

How to prepare your practice for Electronic Prescriptions

You can start to prepare your practice for Electronic Prescriptions by:

  • Ensuring that your practice has a Healthcare Provider Identifier-Organisation (HPI-O) and is connected to the HI service. This is a core requirement for electronic prescribing. Information about how to register your organisation for a HPI-O is available here.
  • Ensuring your practice is connected to an open Prescription Delivery Service via a prescription exchange service. Existing prescription exchange services include eRx and MediSecure.
  • Updating your patients’ and their carers’ contact details on file (mobile phone number / email).
  • Subscribe to your software provider newsletters and correspondence
  • Stay up to date with communication from clinical peak organisations
  • Check to ensure you know any legal rules that are specific to your state or territory such as the management of controlled medicines.
  • Keep your staff informed about electronic prescribing and how they may respond to patient’s questions about electronic prescriptions.

 For more information and supporting resources, please visit the Australian Digital Health Agency Electronic Prescriptions webpage.