Advantages vs. Disadvantages of Electronic Prescribing

With nearly half the country experiencing snap or prolonged lockdowns and with widespread telehealth use, electronic prescriptions (ePrescriptions) have simplified the prescribing of medications for thousands of Doctors across Australia.  If you are not already using it, now is the time to visit this important change with your Practice Manager.

ePrescriptions are legal medication prescriptions that are electronically and securely transmitted to a prescription exchange service (Bp Premier is integrated with both eRx and MediSecure). A QR code token to access the ePrescription is sent to the patient by Best Practice Software via SMS or email. The ePrescription can then be downloaded from the exchange server by a pharmacist upon scanning the QR code token from the patient. ePrescriptions can be used for all prescription types including S8 and authority medications.

The Advantages:

  • Convenience – Removes the need for paper prescriptions and therefore the need for the patient to physically come to the practice.

  • Cost reduction – of mailing the original prescription to the pharmacy

  • Safety of medicines – especially if used in conjunction with prescription management apps

  • Presently there is no cost associated with sending the SMS tokens until June 2022 due to government subsidies.

The Disadvantages:

  • Following the conclusion of the governments SMS token subsidy in June 2022, there will be a cost to clinics associated with ePrescriptions

  • Patients can easily delete their prescriptions on their phone messages or emails, thereby needing to reissue prescriptions

What is needed to set up ePrescribing

  • Ensure your practice has a Healthcare Provider Identifier-Organisation (HPI-O) and is connected to the Health Identifiers Service.

  • Patient Health identifier and verification – ensure you have the patient’s consent to access this data.

  • Contact local pharmacies to ensure they can accept ePrescriptions. Currently > 98% pharmacies in Australia are capable of providing this service.

  • Ensure your patient is comfortable with using their phone or email to receive the QR code and understands the process. It is important to make it clear that once an electronic prescription is issued, all subsequent repeats are also issued electronically by the pharmacy.

It is important to note that a patient can either have an ePrescription OR a paper-based prescription for a medication (not both). If you have issued an ePrescription, and the patient requests a paper-based prescription, then the ePrescription will need to be cancelled first. This can be done by selecting the script in the “Past prescriptions” list or “Current Rx list” and selecting Delete.
If the patient has deleted the token or lost their phone, then the ePrescription can be re-sent from the Past Prescriptions list, using the re-print function.

If the patient has deleted the token or lost their phone, then the ePrescription will need to be canceled as described above and then reissued.

If you are interested to know more about how ePrescriptions work, you can access our training resources online here

There is also an RACGP video (CPD activity) about electronic prescriptions which you can view here

Extension of ePrescription SMS Funding
The funding of SMS ePrescriptions has been extended until the 30th of June 2022. This means you can continue to send electronic prescriptions to your Patients, with no additional cost to your Practice. Best Practice Software will also continue to provide ePrescription messages sent via our Best Health App, free of charge for all Best Health App customers (not funded by the Department of Health).

Image-Based Prescriptions
The Australian Department of Health has extended arrangements for image-based prescriptions until December 31st 2021. Image-based prescriptions allow Doctors to email, text or fax a digital image of a paper script to the patient’s pharmacy, without needing to supply a physical copy of the prescription.

We still encourage all Prescribers to adopt ePrescriptions to ensure you can continue to safely provide Patient Prescriptions electronically post December 31st 2021.


Authored by:

Jessica White Author Blog Picture

Jess White
Commercial and Customer Enablement Manager at Best Practice Software

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