How ePrescribing can drive efficiency in healthcare
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How ePrescribing can drive efficiency in healthcare

Electronic prescribing (ePrescribing) is a Federal Government initiative which allows practitioners and their patients to use an electronic Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) prescription. At the heart of this initiative is improving efficiency, by enabling the prescribing, dispensing and claiming of medicines – without the need for a paper prescription.

In the long-run, ePrescribing has a number of key benefits, both for healthcare professionals and patients. Here’s a quick breakdown of how ePrescribing can drive efficiency now, and in the future.

Why ePrescribing is important

Traditionally, patients have needed a paper script to be printed and signed by their GP, before prescription medication can be dispensed. The Federal Government identified ePrescribing as a priority in the 2018-19 Federal Budget, as it has the potential to significantly increase the efficiency, compliance, drug safety, and data collection of PBS medications.

Among its many benefits, ePrescribing aims to:

  •   improve dispensary efficiency
  •   reduce prescribing and dispensing errors, enhancing patient safety; and
  •   improve patient data privacy by removing the need to store and handle paper prescriptions

This means patients will have a better healthcare experience overall, as a result of improving coordination and management of care between practitioners and pharmacies.

It is important to note that traditional methods of prescribing will continue to be available and supported, even as ePrescribing continues to evolve.

What ePrescribing means for practices now

ePrescribing in MedicalDirector’s Clinical software is currently facilitated by eRx Script Exchange, an Australia-wide internet-based gateway allowing prescriptions to be sent electronically and securely between practitioners and pharmacies. It has been developed to improve patient safety by ensuring that the information on a patient’s prescription arrives exactly as intended.

This technology uses a scannable ‘barcode’ on patient prescription information for the pharmacist to scan directly into their system to eradicate any human error.

Practitioners simply prescribe in MedicalDirector’s Clinical or Helix software as they normally would, printing a paper prescription. The prescription information is sent securely to eRx Script Exchange via MDExchange.

The patient can then visit a pharmacy of their choice to have their barcode scanned and medication dispensed. When the pharmacist scans the patient’s prescription barcode, this will retrieve their script information. 

The barcode is designed to ensure the prescription is genuine, and eradicates any transcribing errors from the pharmacy.

What ePrescribing means for patients moving forward

As Telehealth plays a bigger role in clinical care, practitioners have the option to limit non-essential contact through remote consultations. Medications can be prescribed electronically and sent directly to the patient, via email or SMS. 

The pharmacist can then scan the prescription via a secure QR token, confirm the script details and dispense the medication. If the patient has opted in for Active Script List, doctors and pharmacies that have been given explicit consent by the patient, will be able to view the Active Script List, and the pharmacy will be able to access the appropriate script tokens for dispensing.

Medications for the patient will be kept in a secure database to further minimise the risks of drug interactions and overprescribing. Patients can still attend the pharmacy of their choice – and can still get a paper prescription if they prefer.

All of the patient’s personal and medication information is fully encrypted, making it completely private and secure. Only the practitioner and pharmacist can see the patient’s information. 

Working together to shape the future of ePrescribing for all Australians

There’s no doubt that ePrescribing will be highly beneficial for patients, practitioners and pharmacies alike, but it needs to be implemented properly to benefit patients and practitioners. At MedicalDirector, we believe the most responsible thing for software providers to do is roll out ePrescribing in tandem with the rest of the industry and all the Australian states.

MedicalDirector will be rolling out the next phase of ePrescribing in accordance with the Australian Digital Health Agency’s timelines, and in conjunction with Government-recommended changes to pharmacy software to support and complement ePrescribing across the industry.

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