Electronically Transmitted Prescriptions

What are electronically transmitted prescriptions?

Electronically transmitted prescriptions are an electronically transmitted and digitally signed legal order authorising the supply of a scheduled substance. An electronically transmitted prescription is issued by a prescriber and transmitted securely for dispensing by a pharmacist, through approved software without production of a paper prescription.

Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (ETP) involving the use of barcodes on paper prescriptions are not electronically transmitted prescriptions, as the legal order is the original paper prescription.

Paper prescriptions and electronically transmitted prescriptions are separate formats and are not interchangeable. A prescription is issued in either a paper or an electronic format, and that format will remain the same for the life of that prescription. A prescription cannot be converted from one format to the other.

What is changing?

From 1 November 2019, the Commonwealth Government introduced legislative amendments to the National Health Act 1953 (Cth). These amendments enable electronically transmitted prescriptions for scheduled substances listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) to be claimable for subsidy, in the same way as paper prescriptions.

As a result of the Commonwealth legislative changes, it is anticipated the uptake of electronically transmitted prescriptions will increase. Paper prescriptions and electronically transmitted prescriptions will co-exist, allowing patients to choose their preferred format where available.

There is significant change and adoption work being co‑ordinated by the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA), engaging both software vendors and professional organisations regarding the implementation of electronically transmitted prescriptions.

The Tasmanian poisons legislation was amended in 2008 to allow for electronically transmitted prescriptions where approved by the Tasmanian Secretary for Health. The relevant provisions are Regulations 21 and 46 of the Poisons Regulations 2018. Any software system used in Tasmania to prescribe, transmit, or dispense electronically transmitted prescriptions requires approval in writing from the Secretary for Health.

What does this mean for prescribers and pharmacists?

As awareness increases, members of the public will likely direct questions to prescribers and pharmacists about electronically transmitted prescriptions and how they work.

The ADHA are working with professional organisations on the adoption of electronically transmitted prescriptions into practice workflows.

Prescribers and pharmacists with questions about system integration, practical implementation or technical support should contact their software vendors in the first instance, or the ADHA.

Prescribers and pharmacists who wish to implement electronically transmitted prescriptions should contact their software vendor to confirm their software system has obtained approval from the Tasmanian Secretary for Health.

Where to find more information

For prescribers and pharmacists interested in electronically transmitted prescription system integration, practical implementation and technical support, please contact your software vendor.

For information on the ADHA Framework for electronically transmitted prescriptions, please contact the Australian Digital Health Agency:

Web:    www.digitalhealth.gov.au
Phone:  1300 901 001
Email:   help@digitalhealth.gov.au

For questions regarding the poisons legislation in Tasmania please contact Pharmaceutical Services Branch on:

Phone:  (03) 6166 0400
Email:   pharmserv@health.tas.gov.au

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