Electronic prescribing trial shows promise

Electronic prescribing trial shows promise

04 August, 2020

Electronic prescribing trial shows promise

Amcal Pharmacy Tooronga and Mediscreen Clinic Hawthorn East are among the first pharmacies and general practices Australia-wide to trial electronic prescribing. 

Electronic prescribing is the digital communication of prescription information between the prescriber’s computer and the pharmacist’s computer. This will initially occur via a secure coded token transmitted directly to the patient via SMS or email.  When presented to the pharmacy, the pharmacist uses dispensing technology to scan and decode the prescription information in the token to enable the paperless supply to the patient and complete the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme claim.   

In May, Australia’s first electronic prescription was successfully prescribed and dispensed by a doctor and pharmacist in the Victorian town of Anglesea, using the token model developed by software providers, and coordination and collaboration by the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) and Department of Health. 

As one of 30 trial sites across Australia, Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network has supported end-to-end testing between Amcal Pharmacy Tooronga and Mediscreen Clinic as part of ADHA’s electronic prescribing community of interest.  

Amcal Pharmacy Tooronga Pharmacist Andrew Robinson has dispensed 30 tokens since the trial started in July. 

“This technology is the biggest advancement we have seen in prescriptions and pharmacy dispensing practice since computers.  

“The script exchange technology has been there for a while, but paper was still the medium by which the prescription was transmitted. 

“This removes the need for paper and improves efficiency, safety and security for the doctor and patient.  

“The patients have been very receptive and embraced the technology and age is no barrier.  

“In fact, the majority of the shared regular patients we have with Mediscreen are older, and they have taken it in their stride. 

“The workflow for us in the pharmacy is tricky at this stage as we still juggle doctors faxing, emailing, posting and patients with hand written, computer printed and now token scripts.  

“This means lots of moving parts for the pharmacy to try and bring together, as sometimes one patient may be presenting with several of these modalities,” he said. 

Mediscreen Clinic Practice Manager Argyro Pantelios said much to our delight, after some initial training the doctors have embraced this technology and we have seen an increase in its uptake.  

“Our doctors have commented that it is easy to use and the paperwork has definitely been reduced.  

“While it is early days, the long-term benefits seem worthwhile,” she said. 

EMPHN CEO Janine Wilson said the COVID-19 pandemic has fast tracked the industry’s technology and health sector’s uptake of electronic prescribing, paving the way for a smoother and more secure provider and patient experience in the future. 

“This is a significant step forward in providing timely, flexible patient care and access to medication,” she said. 

Andrew Robinson said as digital image script regulation is wound back, the "real" digital script will quickly pick up acceptance and use and we won't look back.  

“I see some really exciting patient interfaces to help patients manage the tokens and Active Script list (the next digital medium for script storage for patients) which will be key to the patient experience going forward. 

“Now is the perfect time to be stepping into the new era, away from physical paper scripts, which can get lost, are forgeable, time consuming and now potentially disease spreading.  

“I look forward to seeing many digital scripts coming from all our doctors, GP's and specialists included, updating their software and engaging with the technology that the public will expect,” he said. 

General practices and pharmacists in the EMPHN catchment can contact digitalhealth@emphn.org.au for more information.