Australian Government Health Initiatives – A Look at the Past, Present and Future

Australian Government Health Initiatives Blog Post Image

Necessity is the mother of invention. It’s a phrase that many of us have likely heard before, and it’s one that, in many ways, encapsulates how agile the world has had to be in navigating the curveball that was the year 2020.

To combat the various challenges that have arrived with the COVID-19 pandemic, a range of Australian government health initiatives have been mobilised to adapt to the changing healthcare landscape.

Electronic Prescribing

Arguably the most impactful of 2020’s Australian government health initiatives was the fast-tracking of the ePrescribing rollout. With Practices closing to walk-in patients and reverting almost entirely to remote and telehealth consultations, Electronic Prescribing was the next logical step in minimising risk to both doctors and patients.

To assist with the introduction of ePrescribing in the Bp Premier Jade SP3 update, we produced a range of content helping Practices to get started with ePrescribing, our training team produced an Electronic Prescribing Masterclass, and we were proud to announce that Australia’s first ePrescription was processed through Bp Premier in May 2020.

While Electronic Prescribing has been an invaluable tool during the COVID-19 pandemic, the convenience it offers both doctors and patients is a benefit that will remain a constant well into the future.

Secure Messaging

A core part of healthcare in Australia today is the ongoing communication between healthcare providers. As is the nature of discussing medical issues, many of the communications are sensitive in nature, and are often transmitted over unsecure channels, or channels that experience incompatibilities – leading to the potential of communication breakdown, poor outcomes and an inefficient transfer of information.

The national Australian government health initiative on Secure Messaging was agreed upon in 2019 and began work in 2020 in an effort to improve the encrypted electronic exchange of patient healthcare information between healthcare providers. Typical use cases included discharge summaries, referrals and requests and the receipt of results.

Bp Software’s Commercial and Customer Enablement Manager Monica Reed wrote an article on the Secure Messaging initiative, outlining the importance of the functionality, how Best Practice Software got involved, and when Practices can expect Enhanced Secure Messaging to be more widely available.

Active Ingredient Prescribing

From February 2021, prescribing medication by its active ingredient will be a mandatory requirement. This was announced alongside the government’s 2018-2019 Electronic Prescribing budget, and means Practices will need to be on the latest software version to comply, Bp Premier Saffron and Bp VIP.net Ruby SP3.

The regulation mandates the inclusion of active ingredients on all PBS and RPBS prescriptions, with exceptions for handwritten prescriptions, paper-based medication charts in residential aged care settings. medicines with four or more active ingredients and non-medicinal items which don’t have active ingredients (e.g. dressings, nutritional products). Brand names will be able to be included in the prescription if deemed clinically necessary by the prescriber, but the active ingredient will still need to be listed first as per regulations.

To help prepare our customers for this change, we produced an introductory article, outlining what Active Ingredient Prescribing would mean for your Practice, as well as videos explaining the process and impact of the initiative on both patients and practitioners – helping to bring everyone up to speed before the regulations take effect in early 2021.

Real-Time Prescription Monitoring

Though technically introduced late in 2019, the National Real Time Prescription Monitoring (RTPM) initiative has seen significant progress in 2020.

The misuse of controlled substances and medication is an area of growing concern. The RTPM initiative is designed to help reduce the misuse of controlled substances, while ensuring that patients who genuinely need these medications can still get them. The RTPM initiative consists of a National Data Exchange (NDE), and regulatory systems managed by each individual state or territory.

States are now working to integrate their regulatory systems with the database – as we’ve seen successfully occur with Victoria’s SafeScripts platform, and the soon to be delivered ScriptCheckSA in South Australia.

Read more about the Real Time Prescription Monitoring initiative here.

National Cancer Screening Register

The last, but certainly not least among 2020’s important initiatives was the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR), and this integration is available in Bp Premier with our latest Saffron release.

The NCSR is a Department of Health initiative developed to encourage and support bowel cancer and cervical cancer screening. The register has been developed by Telstra Health in partnership with state and territory governments. We’ve partnered with Telstra Health and government departments to integrate the NCSR with Bp Premier to enable simple electronic capture of cancer related health information.

The NCSR provides a range of significant benefits to patients – such as screening reminders and having their doctor make better informed decision with access to their screening history, but it benefits practitioners as well through the ability to order screening test kits, receiving reminders for patients who are overdue for a screening or follow-up, and manage their patients’ program participation.

All of this is now accessible through Bp Premier’s Saffron release, and you can read an article on the National Cancer Screening Register initiative here.

Australian Government Health Initiatives in 2021

Electronic Prescription Token Solution to Integrate with Medisecure

In supporting 2020’s ePrescribing rollout, and the initial introduction of an electronic prescribing token solution integrated with the eRx prescription exchange service, Bp Software will introduce an electronic prescribing token solution integrated with the Medisecure prescription exchange service in Saffron SP1.

We’ve listened to the feedback and understood that a choice of prescription exchange is important to our GP users, so we are working together with Medisecure to deliver this in our next release.

Supporting the Active Script List

In 2021 we’ll be working with the relevant government bodies to extend Bp Premier’s Electronic Prescribing functionality to support the Active Script List. Currently, when a patient seeks to fill a prescription electronically, they do so via a token on their electronic device. A token that is lost, misplaced or accidentally deleted needs to be resent to the patient by the Practice.

Under the Active Script List initiative, pharmacists will be able to verify a patient’s identity and view their valid electronic prescriptions, then safely dispense the necessary medications.

The primary goal of the Active Script List is to overcome the issue of lost tokens, and assist medication management and adherence, especially for patients who are on a schedule of multiple medications.

Medicare Web Services

The Medicare Client Adaptor is how providers currently connect to Medicare Online Claiming, however the technology is quickly becoming dated and providers are being encouraged to transition to the new method of connection, called Web Services. From the 13th of March in 2022, the Medicare Client Adaptor will be retired and no longer accessible.

Currently, Bp Premier and Bp VIP.net connect to Services Australia using the Medicare Client Adaptor. However, due to the eventual transition over to Web Services, there is significant work being undertaken to update Bp Premier and Bp VIP.net to utilise this newer method of authentication and connection.

You can read more about Medicare Web Services here.

COVID-19 Vaccine Reporting Initiatives

Currently in Australia, the recording of vaccinations is encouraged, but not mandatory. A bill currently moving through Australian Parliament will compel GPs and other vaccine providers to report all newly administered vaccines to the Australian Immunisation Register. The aim of the bill is to support the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, and the ongoing administration of the National Immunisation Program.

In preparation of the national rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, Bp Premier’s latest Saffron release provides the functionality to record a patient’s vaccine serial number.

Bp Software is committed and actively participating in government and industry information sessions to ensure that, as we learn more about the mandatory reporting requirements and anticipated upload of vaccine data to the Australian Immunisation Register, we can ensure that our products will comply with user needs.

2020 presented the world, and the healthcare industry in particular, with many unique challenges. While many of the Australian government health initiatives outlined above already had wheels in motion, the fast tracking and prioritising of their rollouts have helped the healthcare industry to remain adaptive to a rapidly shifting landscape.

Important initiatives continue to be the focus in 2021, and will no doubt help to strengthen the Australian healthcare industry – offering innumerable benefits for providers, practitioners and patients alike.

ScriptCheckSA – Real Time Prescription Monitoring Coming March 2021

blog image scriptchecksa

If you were following our blog in the earlier months of 2020, you may recall an article we published on SafeScript, the Victorian government’s real time prescription monitoring solution. The South Australian government has now followed suit with the implementation of ScriptCheckSA, scheduled to be implemented in late March 2021.

ScriptCheckSA is South Australia’s real time prescription monitoring computer system and provides prescribers and pharmacists with real-time information about a patient’s use of monitored and controlled drugs, which is an invaluable resource if they are considering prescribing or dispensing these drugs. Having access to this kind of information ultimately leads to safer clinical decisions.

Prescription drug dependence, misuse and diversion are an increasing concern in Australia. A real time monitoring system such as ScriptCheckSA helps to alleviate misuse, while still ensuring that patients who genuinely require access to these medications can still obtain them.

How Will ScriptCheckSA Impact Prescribers?

ScriptCheckSA is not intended to prevent doctors or pharmacists from prescribing or dispensing monitored or controlled drugs – whether it is appropriate to prescribe a particular medication remains the clinical decision of the treating prescriber or pharmacist.

For our South Australian Practices, the implementation of ScriptCheckSA will allow you to safely prescribe and dispense high-risk medication, and transmit that information in real time to a centralised database, which can then be accessed by other doctors and pharmacists in subsequent consultations. This provides access to valuable information for prescribers and dispensers to facilitate the early identification, treatment and support for patients who may be starting to show signs of drug dependence.

What Can You Do To Prepare Now?

In preparation for ScriptCheckSA, a legislative change was made to the Controlled Substances (Poisons) Regulations 2011, including mandatory Drugs of Dependency reporting to the Department of Health SA from 1st November 2020. You can read more about this here

If your Patient Management System has integration with a Prescription Exchange service and you have this enabled the reporting will be done automatically.

For Bp Premier Practices:

  • Ensure that you upgrade to Bp Premier Saffron edition when it is released.
  • Ensure that your Practice has activated either eRx or Medisecure as a prescription exchange service. For more information on this please refer to our Knowledge Base, which can be accessed in Bp Premier by selecting Help > Online, and searching for either eRx or Medisecure.
  • View our Real-Time Prescription Monitoring setup guide available on our Knowledge Base, which can be accessed in Bp Premier by selecting Help > Online, and searching for real time prescription monitoring.

For Bp VIP.net Practices:

  • Ensure that you are using the latest release of Bp VIP.net.
  • Ensure the eRx prescription exchange service is activated. For more information on this, please refer to our Knowledge Base by selecting Help > Online from within Bp VIP.net.

Where Can You Find More Information?

A list of frequently asked questions is available on the SAHealth website here. If you have a specific enquiry pertaining to the rollout and implementation of ScriptCheckSA, get in contact here.

Videos: Active Ingredient Prescribing for Doctors and Patients

Active Ingredient Prescribing for Doctors and Patients

Prescribing medication by its active ingredient will become mandatory from February 2021. This change is part of the government’s 2018-2019 Electronic Prescribing Budget initiative that was legislated in 2019 under the National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Amendment (Active Ingredient Prescribing) Regulations 2019. The aim is to improve patient understanding of the medications they take in addition to promoting the uptake of generic and biosimilar medicines to support a long term viable and sustainable market for these medications in Australia. Watch the videos below to better understand Active Ingredient Prescribing for Doctors and patients.

Active Ingredient Prescribing for Doctors

Active Ingredient Prescribing for Patients

Stay Secure With Bp VIP.net Password Updates in Ruby SP3

password features bp vipnet ruby sp3

In a 2019 study conducted by Google, LastPass and OneLogin, a few alarming statistics were discovered:

  • 51% of people use the same passwords across work and personal accounts.
  • 57% of people who have had their security compromised don’t change their passwords.
  • ‘123456’, ‘iloveyou’ and ‘sunshine’ were among some of the most popular passwords used.

Passwords can be a simple and effective security method when used correctly, and are often the first line of defence when protecting Practices and their data. However, as we can see in the statistics above – we’re not always as diligent as we should be when choosing and managing our passwords.

In our new Ruby SP3 release, a password functionality update is front and centre, enabling you to impose stricter measures around password requirements, and retain more control when controlling who can log into Bp VIP.net.

These settings can be configured for all clinical users at once, enabling you to increase security around logging-in to Bp VIP.net.

The new Password Policy tab has been added to the Facility Preferences.

  • To access, click Set Up > Facility Preferences > General Preferences
  • Click on the Password Policy tab at the end.

The new settings will enable you to:

  • Set rules around password complexity, such as a minimum length and the inclusion of symbols.
  • Set a maximum number of login attempts.
  • Enforce users to change their password after a defined period.
  • Enforce an automatic logout period when a user login in Bp VIP.net becomes inactive.

password features vip ruby sp3

We recommend that you familiarise yourself with the full set of Bp VIP.net Ruby SP3 release notes, to confirm you are completing all required tasks prior to running the update – which includes this new password functionality.

The Bp VIP.net Ruby Sp3 release notes are available on our knowledge base, which you can reach from within Bp VIP.net by selecting Help > Online.

In addition, you can read about other functionality being included in the Bp VIP.net Ruby SP3 update here.

Authored by:

Jo Monson Bp Staff Pic

Johanna Monson
Training & Deployment Specialist at Best Practice Software

My Health Record for Specialists: A Co-designed Approach With ADHA

my health record blog image

Best Practice Software is in the final phases of getting ready to release My Health Record functionality for specialists through Bp VIP.net – a software solution that serves the needs of medical specialists such as ophthalmologists and cardiologists.

During 2019, the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) invited leading software vendors for specialists to co-produce design improvements to their experience with My Health Record (MHR).  Bp VIP.net was accepted as a software vendor to participate in joint workshops organised by the ADHA to improve MHR functionality and overall usability for all specialists in Australia.

The end-result of the collaboration is a dedicated Bp VIP.net software release for My Health Record functionality, due for public release in early 2021.

The media release published by the ADHA is available here.

From Understanding Specialist Workflows to Improving User Experience and Patient Discovery

One of the key drivers behind the My Health Record for specialists initiative, and for software vendors to participate in joint workshops, was to increase a joint understanding of specialist needs. The goal of the joint understanding is to improve overall My Health Record functionality with software vendors and to avoid disrupting specialist and Practice workflows by providing a better user experience.

Taking this approach, Best Practice Software wanted to streamline all integration points in Bp VIP.net to My Health Record to ensure ease of access for viewing, accessing and downloading patient records. With the design improvements, we also wanted to ensure the same streamlined approach for uploading clinical documents back to My Health Record. This will ultimately lead to improving the overall shared electronic patient record in Australia and bettering the care of patients.

One of the long-term goals for the ADHA is to continue to increase the overall uptake of My Health Record amongst medical specialists. As the uptake for MHR has been significant over the years through our Best Practice GP software, Bp Premier, we also needed to ensure an integrated design approach for specialists. This ultimately leads to offering a great user experience to all users of Bp VIP.net software. Access to electronic patient records through MHR has been streamlined in all relevant specialist’s features to blend into existing Practice workflows. The release provides access to new MHR functionality while minimising disruption to Practices and increasing ease of access and uploads to MHR.

Patient discovery is another crucial aspect for a successful MHR user experience. One of the outcomes of the My Health Record design process, has led to helping specialists identify whether a patient has a MHR and whether they are actively participating in the program. Bp VIP.net users can easily identify patient participation through improved MHR status updates in the software.

When is This Becoming Available for Specialists?

Bp VIP.net is in the final stages of development and are getting ready for general release in the beginning of 2021, to offer specialists an integrated and seamless experience with My Health Record.

Offering a great user experience has been at the heart of the design process, while ensuring a safe and secure approach to managing patient privacy and consent to MHR. Improved healthcare outcomes have already been proven by the uptake of MHR and the improved functionality for specialists will hopefully keep us moving in the right direction with the technology available to all of us today for managing a shared health record.

Authored by:

Henry Vesander Blog Author Image

Henry Vesander
Product Management Leader at Best Practice Software


Bp in the Barossa Valley – a Bp VIP.net Case Study

Barossa Eye Clinic Team Photo Blog Image

In South Australia, approximately 60 kilometres northeast of Adelaide sits the well-known region of the Barossa Valley – the location of the clinic we’ve chosen to feature in our Bp VIP.net case study.

Normally known as a region that produces some of the country’s best wine, the Barossa Valley is also home to the Barossa Eye Clinic. Here, Dr Deric De Wit and wife Tanya, along with an efficient support staff, operate an ophthalmic clinic that services the greater community of the Barossa Valley.

The Challenge

Prior to the adoption of Bp VIP.net, Dr Deric De Wit, who now owns the Barossa Eye Clinic in South Australia, had been working in other clinics operating without a digitised Practice management system. Despite the wide acceptance of paper-based medical records, Dr. De Wit had many concerns around a lack of privacy, safety and security with paper-based records, and the potential risk of a data breach.

Security of sensitive patient data wasn’t Dr. De Wit’s only concern. A paper-based recordkeeping system also operates in absence of clinical decision-making support tools, lacks clinical governance, and doesn’t offer the ability to quickly and easily obtain a full view of a patient’s history, thereby increasing the risk of clinical error.

Physical recordkeeping and paper-based correspondence were also costly. The organisation and administration of patient records monopolised several hours each day and cost the Practice in terms of physical storage space and the ongoing expense of office supplies. Having to manually lodge Medicare claims meant staff were also commonly spending time on the phone with Medicare. There was excessive duplication of commonly used tests, which would have to be printed and sent in paper envelopes, adding to expenses, and not uncommonly, there was the possibility of incorrect filing with paper-based systems also. Operating in this manner inevitably resulted in a backlog of requests, which could lead to a delay of hours or even days before a decision could be made, which greatly impacted their efficiency and ability to deliver exceptional services to their patients.

Dr. De Wit believed that a digital Practice management system would solve these issues and concerns and would provide many additional cost savings and efficiencies when he opened his own new Practice.

The Practice

Barossa Eye Clinic is a private ophthalmology clinic servicing the communities of the Barossa Valley and Northern Adelaide. However, the reputation of the clinic is such that they regularly field patients from Perth and Sydney who travel for specialised glaucoma treatments. Since opening in 2018, the Barossa Eye Clinic operates with 10 staff and has served approximately 4,000 unique patients in that time.

Dr Deric De Wit serves as the clinic’s lead ophthalmologist. Dr De Wit is the clinic’s Clinical Lead and takes responsibility for all medical issues, medical pathways, clinical governance, research and technical issues within the clinic. His wife Tanya is the Practice Manager, and together they are supported by a team of administration staff and ophthalmic technicians.

Selecting Bp VIP.net

As part of their selection and evaluation process, Dr De Wit and Tanya had numerous concerns front of mind. They were aware of the fact that older staff may take some time to adapt to an electronic system, and that some users may not be able to type quickly enough. There was the ever-present risk around network security, and the worry that the IT support rendered by the software provider may not be sufficient. In addition, there was a lingering concern that the software would not be adaptable enough for each of the clinic’s staff or compatible with the external systems that the clinic used on a regular basis such as the PBS, accounting packages and third-party integrations. They were also mindful of the overall cost of the system.

After taking this into consideration and evaluating several other products, Tanya and Dr. De Wit ultimately decided to choose Bp VIP.net as their Practice management system of choice.

“It was the best overall performer by far – it was sleek, user friendly, it had such depth and excellent programming behind it – almost everything I could have thought of was already in place along with many other well thought out strategies for safe and efficient medical practice. The pricing was good and the team behind it nimble and transparent.”

One other significant advantage of Bp VIP.net that Dr. De Wit felt was of particular value was that while it’s an incredibly customisable solution, the base product works ‘out of the box’ and integrates with a range of well-known and commonly used platforms such as the PBS, EFTPOS and Medicare.

Both Tanya and Dr. De Wit felt that after considering all available options, Bp VIP.net was the only solution that truly ticked all their boxes, and that they were fully committed to using it above any other platform they had trialed.

bp vip.net case study dr de wit in consult

Since Using Bp VIP.net

The Barossa Eye Clinic staff still held some reservations over the impact of their decision during the early stages of the installation and onboarding process, however these dissipated quickly once they started using the software.

“We were worried about the implementation of the software and whether or not we would make a serious mistake in the first few weeks of using the product. We have been given excellent in-house support which made it completely seamless from day one of opening. We have never looked back and we have grown to passionately love Bp VIP.net for its simplicity and robustness.”

In addition to the general fluidity and ease-of-use, Dr. De Wit also praised the positive impact Bp VIP.net has had on the Practice’s measured results.

“There are huge savings from a staffing point of view. From memory in other Practices we always had one dedicated staff member that used to have to pull files every morning which would take two hours. This is definitely a realised benefit, together with all the time saved when people are trying to find a file that has been misplaced which was incredibly common. With Bp VIP.net I am always a few clicks away from the complete medical record of my patients – I already start dialling the telephone to speak to other doctors about my patients (or take their call directly) before I have even typed my patient’s name into the system – I am that confident I will have the information I need instantaneously. This is incredibly empowering.”

By Dr. De Wit’s estimation, his new clinic has also saved thousands of dollars per year in physical mail costs and is reassured by the instant correspondence that emails and faxes provide over paper mail. He also makes special mention of the electronic benefits with regards to billing and Medicare processing, as this was previously a task that consumed many hours of staff time on the phone, which is no longer an issue for them.

Another unmeasured, but very realistic saving is that the clinic has not missed an important patient follow up appointment as they use the excellent recall and follow-up system in the software with ease.

Dr. De Wit touts the system’s flexibility to customise workflows and templates as a significant benefit to the way he operates. In addition, his staff’s general feedback on Bp VIP.net is glowing, especially from staff who are old enough to remember how cumbersome and awkward it was to operate in a busy Practice with a paper-based system. He explains that each of his staff feel a peace of mind when using the software each day, knowing that nothing is going to slip through the cracks which, in his experience, is one of the biggest potential stressors in any medical Practice.

The Barossa Eye Clinic also uses Bp SMS to complement Bp VIP.net. They praise the additional functionality for its efficiency, commenting on the excellent feedback they receive from their staff and patients alike.

Overall, Dr. De Wit has nothing but praise when discussing the benefits that Bp VIP.net has brought to the Barossa Eye Clinic.

“I am one of your strongest supporters, and I never hesitate to show my colleagues in the UK and Germany the excellence of this program. Somehow, I get to feel like I am responsible for some of its brilliance when I am showing them, and I get a real buzz and ego boost when I show other people how wonderful our software is. In fact, I view Bp VIP.net as the gold standard out of all the electronic medical software solutions that I’ve seen – I have worked in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Germany and other parts of Australia – no medical software I have used has ever been so streamlined and comprehensive.”

You can find out more about the Barossa Eye Clinic at their website.

Bp VIP.net Ruby SP3 – Take a Peek at What’s Inside!

Bp VIP.net Ruby SP3 Blog Cat Peeking

Exciting news – Bp VIP.net Ruby SP3 is now available for download!

Some of you may have attended the Masterclass for Bp VIP.net’s Ruby SP3 update in August, which showcased the Online Provider Directory for Secure Messaging. That release was unfortunately delayed due to the imminent release of Active Ingredient Prescribing functionality, which in turn was also delayed due to the release of the compliant MIMS version.

We’re now excited to be able to release both of these great new features simultaneously, and we have a range of fantastic resources to ensure you’re able to educate and prepare yourself, and your staff, prior to the release. We’ve also included Quick Reference Guides to help you when you upgrade to Bp VIP.net Ruby SP3.

Prior to upgrading to Bp VIP.net Ruby SP3, ensure you download the most up-to-date version of MIMS from Live Update. This will ensure that all the medications are updated and compliant with the Active Ingredient Prescribing functionality.

Meanwhile – take some time to familiarise yourself with features outlined in our Masterclass video on Secure Messaging, and our pre-release video on Active Ingredient Prescribing at the end of this article.

A range of Quick Reference Guides are available on the Bp VIP.net Knowledge Base, accessible from within Bp VIP.net. In addition, we’ve uploaded a number of invaluable articles on useful topics such as Active Ingredient Prescribing, installing your new NASH certificate, configuring your Bp VIP.net database and using the Online Provider Directory.

All of these guides and articles can be accessed in the Knowledge Base within Bp VIP.net by selecting Help > Online.


Authored by:

Jo Monson Bp Staff Pic

Jo Monson
Training & Deployment Specialist at Best Practice Software

Active Ingredient Prescribing: What Does It Mean For You?

Active Ingredient Prescribing Blog Image

Prescribing medication by its active ingredient will become mandatory from February 2021. This change is part of the government’s 2018-2019 Electronic Prescribing Budget initiative that was legislated in 2019 under the National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Amendment (Active Ingredient Prescribing) Regulations 2019. The aim of this regulation is to improve patient understanding of the medications they take in addition to promoting the uptake of generic and biosimilar medicines that would support a long term viable and sustainable market for these medications in Australia.

The regulation mandates the inclusion of the active ingredients on all PBS and RPBS prescriptions with the exception of:

  • Handwritten prescriptions
  • Paper-based medication charts in residential aged care settings
  • Medications with four or more active ingredients
  • Vaccines
  • Custom preparations and prescriptions generated through a free text function within prescribing software
  • Over the counter items
  • Non-medicinal items such as dressings and food supplements
  • Medications determined by the Secretary for practicality and safety reasons

Brand names can be included in the prescription if it is considered to be clinically necessary by the prescriber; however, the active ingredient must be listed first as per the regulation. Furthermore, software is prohibited from automatically including the brand name by default. It is therefore up to the prescriber to include the brand name on the prescription.

Why is this change being implemented?

There are numerous benefits to prescribing by active ingredient rather than brand name. First, generic prescribing enables patients to identify the pharmaceutically active ingredient (the international nonproprietary name) of their drug and thereby have a better understanding about the medications they take.

Second, it will reduce the risk of patients accidentally taking the same medication as a result of a prescribing or dispensing error due to being unaware that the brand name is not a unique identifier of their medication.

Third, it will allow the dispensation of any suitable equivalent generic should their brand of medication not be available at the pharmacy and subsequently reduce delays in supplying medication to the patient.

It is envisaged this change will increase the uptake of generic and biosimilar products which would reduce the out-of-pocket cost to the patient and the PBS.

How might this change the way I prescribe medications?

From a prescriber’s perspective, there are some changes in our workflow. When prescribing a new medication, we can still search by brand name or the active ingredient.

Prescribing a new medication by brand name

If we wish the patient to have a specific brand, then we have to check the “Print brand name on scripts” check-box and un-check the “Allow brand substitution” check box. This will convey to the pharmacist that the brand name on the script is what should be dispensed and brand substitution is not permitted.

Prescribing a new medication by active ingredient name

If we are satisfied that there is no clinical need for the patient to be on a particular brand of medication then we can search and select the drug by the active ingredient name. The options to “Print brand name on scripts” and “Allow brand substitution” will not be selectable as it is superfluous information since we have chosen to prescribe a generic medication.

Providing a prescription for a patient’s existing medication by brand

During the roll out of the software update for active ingredient prescribing, if a patient’s medication has previously been declared as not allowing brand substitution, then it will be set to “Print brand name on scripts”. This is because a prescriber has previously decided and recorded that the patient must be on the recorded brand of medication. In such cases the brand name will be printed on the script and the workflow for the doctor will not change.

However, if “Allow Brand Substitution” is checked (meaning that a generic brand can be dispensed), then the “Print brand name on scripts” will not be flagged. This is because, it has not previously been declared that the patient must be on that brand of medication. As per the regulation, software vendors cannot default to printing brand name on scripts in such cases. This may potentially become an issue to doctors who have, for example, previously prescribed “Micardis”, but have declared that brand substitution is permitted. In these cases, the brand “Micardis” will not be printed on the script and therefore the patient will be dispensed a generic Telmisartan rather than Micardis.

Providing a prescription for a patient’s existing medication by active ingredient

This scenario should not change the workflow of the doctor as the active ingredient will be printed.

How might this change affect my patients?

It is very important that we have a discussion with our patients regarding the upcoming changes and how it can affect their medications. This is especially if they are taking brand medications and we wish them to continue to do so.

Below are some examples of a typical prescription showing branded medication, and the same prescription showing only the active ingredient.

Active Ingredient Prescribing Sample Prescription

Authored by:

Dr Fabrina Avatar

Dr Fabrina Hossain
Clinical Advisor at Best Practice Software


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Cataract Surgery Self-Auditing is Here with Index Health!

Cataract Surgery Image

Consider the following within the context of auditing your Cataract Surgery history. After examining a 63-year-old patient with a cataract, you discuss the option of surgery.

You include an obligatory statistic informing them of risk. You quote a statistic of 1/400 for the possibility of worse vision. Your patient recoils, exclaiming, “that seems a bit high!”

You now doubt yourself, and question your rate – can it really be that high?

You begin to suspect that your patient is questioning our ability as a surgeon. Do one in 400 of your patients really lose two or more lines of BCVA? Do some patients have a greater likelihood of BCVA loss? Can you identify them?

Are you able to provide a patient with a risk which is specific to their presentation? Is it acceptable to provide patients with a general figure, or can you provide them with a figure that relates to your surgery?

Is your complication rate improving?

We live in a era of data analysis – we have apps to track our heart rate, exercise, diet and sleep. We measure, and then we re-measure – with the aim of improving.

As surgeons, we take great pride in our work. But to improve we need to be able to objectively assess our progress. We are not in a competition. But without analysing our results, we cannot improve. Many of us look at audit as an onerous task, sifting through patient files and entering data into a spreadsheet. But it doesn’t need to be this way. Self-auditing can be a seamless part of your professional growth.

Index Health, in partnership with Best Practice Software, now have an integrated cataract surgery self-audit tool for Bp VIP.net.

When using our tool, your results will not be shared, your privacy will be maintained and we adhere to all Australian privacy laws.  Index Health with Best Practice Software can be seamlessly integrated into your Practice, with minimal changes to your workflow.

Start using our Index Health cataract surgery self-audit tool, and begin assessing your progress today.

For more information see the Index Health website or contact Index Health at ben@indexhealth.com.au

Enhanced Secure Messaging – the Path to Interoperability

Secure Messaging Interoperability

A core part of healthcare in Australia today is communication between healthcare providers. However many of these sensitive communications are taking place via unsecure channels, or through channels that aren’t compatible, leading to a breakdown of communication, poor health outcomes and inefficiencies.

To solve this challenge, a national initiative has been introduced to transform the way health information is exchanged in Australia. A key goal of the initiative is to equip healthcare providers with the ability to communicate with other professionals utilising secure messaging via their integrated practice management system. This will result in reduced dependency on unsecure channels such as paper-based correspondence, fax machine or post.

Here’s what you need to know about secure messaging – what it is, why it’s important, how it will impact practices and the timeline for implementation.

What is Secure Messaging?

Secure messaging enables the encrypted electronic exchange of patient healthcare information between healthcare providers. Point-to-point delivery of messages such as discharge summaries, referrals, requests and results represent the typical use case.

The electronic message is encrypted by the sender and decrypted by the receiver and therefore cannot be read if intercepted in transit.

Software vendors and their solutions, built to facilitate secure message delivery, are well established in Australasia, some with over 25 years in the market.

It’s fair to say that the majority of practices have had some exposure to secure message service providers (eg, Telstra Health Argus, Healthlink, Medical Objects and ReferralNet) and may even have more than one service enabled.

Why Does Secure Messaging Matter?

In a shared care environment, where it is necessary to exchange healthcare information, secure messaging ensures that the highest level of security and privacy is maintained. Protecting a patient’s sensitive, healthcare information and in alignment with the Privacy Act 1988. In addition, the benefits of exchanging data electronically and securely include speed, efficiency, lower risk and reduced cost.

A collaborative, nationwide approach to unify secure messaging providers is crucial to providing a seamless healthcare journey for patients, and for enabling simple and easy communication amongst healthcare providers.

Isn’t Secure Messaging Already In Place?

Imagine for a moment if our telephone service providers weren’t interoperable, for example your phone network wasn’t able to call someone you know who subscribes to another phone network. How effective would our telephone system be if this were the case? To date, we are in somewhat of a similar situation with secure messaging.

Despite the widespread adoption of secure messaging, the individual secure messaging service providers have approached messaging differently, resulting in incompatibility in many instances. The lack of interoperability has resulted in fragmented systems and communication.

Furthermore, messages and referrals generated by practitioners are often limited to providers listed in their local address book or directory, making it time consuming to locate contact details for providers outside their normal referral network. The above method also relies on the provider information being kept up to date by the practice, often leading to inaccurate information, possibly even providers that are no longer in operation.

What is Changing?

The Australian Digital Health Agency is leading a program of change, to enhance interoperability standards for secure messaging. This initiative is in direct support of the National Digital Health Strategy, to reduce barriers to using secure electronic exchange of health data and ensure interoperability between technologies. Two key changes will take place as part of this initiative.

First is the introduction of a federated provider directory capability, enabling clinical information systems and secure messaging delivery systems to search cross-directory to find accurate, trusted and validated healthcare provider electronic addresses.

Second, software providers are enhancing the message exchange format to meet an agreed standardized specification for message content – streamlined to improve interoperability across disparate service providers and clinical systems.

How is Best Practice Software Getting Involved?

Best Practice Software has actively participated in the collaboration between software providers and government bodies, to define interoperability standards for secure messaging solutions.

The development to enhance secure messaging and be conformant to the ADHA specification is currently in testing phase and the enhanced functionality will be available in Bp Premier Saffron and VIP.net Ruby SP3 in the coming months.

When Will Enhanced Secure Messaging be Available More Widely?

There are 42 software organisations taking part in the ADHA secure messaging enhancement initiative, the change program is scheduled to conclude this October so there are certainly exciting times ahead for improved data workflows and efficiencies!

Authored by:

Monica Reed






Monica Reed
Manager, Commercial & Customer Enablement at Best Practice Software