PBS News

The PBS Schedule is not changing in November - bigger changes are on the way for December 2012

1 November 2012

The Department of Health and Ageing, Pharmaceutical Benefits Division is transitioning its information management systems to PharmCIS (Pharmaceutical Consolidated Information System). PharmCIS streamlines existing data sources and provides an integrated environment for the management of PBD business, supporting the approval and listing of medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

As advised on 2 July 2012, to facilitate the changeover to the new information system there will be no changes to the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits on 1 November 2012. The next Schedule update will be on 1 December 2012.

The move to the new PharmCIS will deliver two key changes that will support E-health initiatives now and into the future. The rollout of the new PharmCIS that will be implemented from 1 December 2012 is made possible by the support of many stakeholders. More information on the new look of the Schedule will be published before 1 December so be sure to subscribe to latest news to keep informed.

What are these Changes

The first is the introduction of Australian Medicines Terminology (AMT) into the published PBS Schedule and the underpinning data. The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has been assisting the Pharmaceutical Benefits Division with implementation of the AMT and alignment with the current PBS Schedule.

The 1 December 2012 data release for the PBS Schedule will include AMT identifiers and preferred term descriptions for the AMT concepts of Medicinal Products, Medicinal Product Packs and Trade Product Packs. In particular the PBS data will use the Medicinal Product Pack as the standardised descriptor of dosage form and strength resulting in the consistent depiction of pack size in these descriptions. Subsequent changes to the presentation of pack size and maximum quantity in the PBS Schedule will be seen in the 1 December 2012 PBS Schedule. 

Detailed information about the AMT and these specific concepts can be found on the NEHTA website. This is a significant milestone in the use of AMT and supports broader e-health initiatives such as electronic medication management programmes, e-prescribing and the personally controlled electronic health record.

Further, the introduction of PharmCIS provides an opportunity to structure the indication information contained in restrictions, including authority required and authority required streamlined items. The aim is for PBS restrictions to have a uniform structure which will simplify the development of medical software by codifying the data elements. This change will be rolled out progressively across the PBS formulary commencing in December 2012.  This codification will also allow for PBS indications to be mapped directly to the SNOMED CT®, the internationally pre-eminent clinical terminology, which has been identified as the preferred national terminology for Australia endorsed by the Australian, state and territory governments.

The use of SNOMED CT structure for specific concepts introduces mechanisms to facilitate the linking of health data sets which will contribute to better research outcomes and the ongoing development of E-health initiatives. Detailed information regarding SNOMED CT can also be found on the NEHTA website.