The majority of Australians now have the choice of an electronic prescription instead of a paper prescription. Over 8 million electronic prescriptions and repeat prescriptions have already been generated by prescribers and dispensers across Australia.
How it works
There are currently two ways by which patients can receive and manage their electronic prescriptions:
Patients can choose to receive their prescription via SMS or email, in the form of a hyperlink to a unique QR code or ‘token’. Patients receive one token for each medicine prescribed. Patients can also receive a printed copy of the token if they don’t have a smartphone or email.
The token is scanned by the pharmacy to unlock the electronic prescription from an encrypted and secure prescription delivery service. Once a token is scanned and the medicine is dispensed the token becomes invalid and cannot be reused. When the medicine is dispensed, if there is a repeat for that prescription, the pharmacist will send another token to the patient – this is the token that they use next time they get their prescription repeat filled.
Patients can forward their token to a carer or family member to take to the pharmacy on their behalf, just in the same way they can give them a paper prescription. To assist patients with token management where they need to keep track of multiple tokens and repeats, mobile applications have been developed which allow patients to order medicines in advance and may even facilitate home delivery.
Active Script List (available at pharmacies with compatible software)
The Active Script List is another option for managing electronic prescriptions. As the name suggests, it is a list of all the patient’s active electronic prescriptions, including their repeats. If the patient consents to the pharmacy having access to their Active Script List, the pharmacist no longer needs the patient to provide an electronic prescription token. This means a patient does not need to manage their tokens, which is ideal for patients taking multiple medications. If unknown to the pharmacy, the patient will need to confirm their identity before the pharmacy can dispense any medicines via an Active Script List. While tokens are no longer required with an Active Script List, a patient can still choose to receive them.
A patient does not automatically have an Active Script List, they will need to register for one. At the moment, only pharmacies with compatible software are able to access a patient’s Active Script List and they complete the registration process with the patient. However, once the software functionality allows, prescribers will also be able to view a patient’s Active Script List (with consent) and patients will be able to view and manage their own Active Script List via a mobile application.
Patients can use a combination of tokens and the Active Script List, they are not mutually exclusive. However, a prescription can only be dispensed once, regardless of the method they use. If a patient has an Active Scrip List, their electronic prescriptions will be added by default, unless the patient requests the prescriber to withhold it. In which case, the patient will receive their electronic prescription token via SMS or email.
It is important to remember that electronic prescriptions are an alternative to paper prescriptions. If the patient prefers to use paper prescriptions, then their prescriber and pharmacy will continue to support the patient’s preference.
For more information about electronic prescriptions:
- Department of Health: health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/electronic-prescribing
- Australian Digital Health Agency: digitalhealth.gov.au/get-started-with-digital-health/electronic-prescriptions
- Australian Digital Health Agency electronic prescription eLearning: https://www.acn.edu.au/education/digital-health#agency
- To request education and training from the Australian Digital Health Agency please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was written by the Australian Digital Health Agency as part of their partnership with ACN.
Join ACN and the Australian Digital Health Agency in an upcoming webinar which will discuss electronic prescriptions and other digital health tools.
Thursday 17 June, 5.00pm-6.00pm AEST
New ways of working using Telehealth and Digital Health Tools: an interactive session for nurses