PBS News

Electronic Prescribing

Page last updated: 19 September 2019

What is Electronic Prescribing?

Electronic Prescribing will provide an option for prescribers (including doctors, dentists, optometrists, midwives and nurse practitioners), and their patients to have an electronic prescription as an alternative to a paper-based prescription.

Why Electronic Prescribing?

Electronic Prescribing was identified as part of the 2018-19 Federal Budget as a key priority to increase the efficiency, compliance, drug safety and data collection of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medications.

In line with the National Digital Health Strategy, Electronic Prescribing will assist with the aim to have “digitally enabled paper-free options for all medication management in Australia by 2020”. This will allow people to manage prescriptions electronically which will increase convenience and improve medication safety.

The Australian Government Department of Health (the Department) is leading the work to enable Electronic Prescribing in partnership with the Australian Digital Health Agency and the Department of Human Services.

The Department has been working with the health sector to shape the technical solution for Electronic Prescribing that will meet the needs of prescribers, dispensers and patients without hindering existing business processes.

Electronic Prescribing Principles

Electronic Prescribing will adhere to the following high-level principles:

  1. Security of patient information (privacy)
    Electronic Prescribing must maintain the safety and privacy of current and historical patient and prescription data.
  2. Integrity of prescription data (Safety)
    Electronic Prescribing must maintain the integrity of prescription data to ensure patient safety.
  3. Continues to support patient choice of prescriber
    Electronic Prescribing will continue to support a patient’s right to choose their approved prescriber.
  4. Continues to support patient choice of pharmacy
    Electronic Prescribing will continue to support a patient’s right to choose the pharmacy to supply their medications.
  5. Electronic and paper prescriptions will co-exist as the legal form of the prescription
    Electronic prescriptions and paper prescriptions will co-exist. Electronic Prescribing will not be mandatory, and patients and prescribers will be able to choose an electronic prescription.
  6. National Electronic Prescribing framework
    Paper and electronic prescriptions will continue to meet the relevant Commonwealth and State and Territory legislation.
  7. Supports existing PBS polices
    Electronic and paper prescriptions will be valid in existing PBS supply settings. Electronic Prescribing is not intended to change the broader PBS policy environment.
  8. Leveraging existing assets and capabilities
    Electronic Prescribing will support Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy principle of Leveraging existing assets and capabilities to reuse and build on existing infrastructure. This will reduce the impacts on processes for clinicians.

What are the changes?

The implementation of Electronic Prescribing requires the development of regulatory and technical frameworks, and changes to existing systems and software that will enable the safe and secure use of an electronic prescription as a legal alternative to a paper prescription. The changes will adhere to the above principles for Electronic Prescribing, and will occur in two areas:

1. Regulatory Framework

The introduction of the electronic prescription as a legal form requires minor changes to Commonwealth legislation. The Department will detail the form of the electronic prescription, and the IT requirements for clinical software. Changes will also be made to the PBS claim for payment system to support the new arrangements.

The Commonwealth has engaged with the states and territories to ensure amendments are aligned across Commonwealth, state and territory legislation to deliver a nationally consistent Electronic Prescribing framework.

2. Technical Framework

The Australian Digital Health Agency is developing the technical framework to support electronic prescriptions. This technical framework will detail the requirements for clinical software to ensure alignment with the legal framework, adherence to privacy and security principles and maintenance of patient choice. The technical framework will identify the clinical software changes in consultation with the clinical software sector.

Changes to the PBS claim for payment system will be managed by the Department of Human Services.

When are the changes occurring?

Electronic Prescribing will be available from late 2019.

The Department is undertaking change and communication activities to consult with and educate prescribers, dispensers and patients. User guides, FAQs and documentation relating to Electronic Prescribing are expected to be communicated in the lead up to implementation.

More information

For more information on Electronic Prescribing please contact the Department of Health at ePrescribing@health.gov.au.

For information on the Technical Framework for Electronic Prescribing please contact the Australian Digital Health Agency.