ePrescribing Communities of Interest: Taking the first step towards a national roll-out
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ePrescribing Communities of Interest: Taking the first step towards a national roll-out

The ePrescribing roll-out has started, and both dispensing and prescribing is being tested via the Australian Digital Health Agency’s Communities of Interest initiative a staged process that starts with ePrescribing being made available to a number of small test groups of GPs and pharmacies.

At MedicalDirector, we believe a unified approach to ePrescribing is crucial. ePrescribing Communities of Interest facilitate this by allowing the system to be tested by small groups of GPs and pharmacies. This way we can make sure the process runs smoothly from end-to-end, before it is made available to everyone. 

Not only do Communities of Interest allow prescribers and dispensers to test ePrescribing using real-world scenarios, they also provide an overall picture of how an electronic prescription might be generated, transmitted, accessed and dispensed, within a given community, and where possible issues could arise.

How are the electronic prescribing Communities of Interest determined?

Each software company identifies a number of practices and pharmacies among their clients to go live during this testing phase. By rolling out e-prescribing to a small number of users, it’s easier to identify and resolve any issues before the broader roll-out commences. 

How do electronic prescribing Communities of Interest work?

Communities of Interest are set up with at least one general practice along with one community pharmacy in close proximity to each other. Throughout June, 2020, more and more Communities of Interest will be set up in different locations to make sure the different facets of ePrescribing including prescription delivery services, third party intermediary applications and all different combinations of prescribing and dispensing are seamlessly integrated. 

Can all software providers participate?

There are a number of criteria that every software provider must meet if they want to participate in communities of interest. 

  1. They must be compliant with the electronic prescribing conformance framework 
  2. They must have a conformance identifier registered on the electronic prescribing conformance register
  3. They need to contact their state and territory regulators and advise them that they intend to use electronic prescribing in their jurisdiction. ePrescribing must also be legislated for in their state.

Which ePrescribing models are being trialled at the moment?

Currently, the only model being tested is the token model for ePrescribing. This is where a GP issues a unique virtual ‘token’ to the patient, which they then take to their pharmacy and show the pharmacist via their mobile phone. The pharmacist scans the token to access the electronic prescription and dispenses accordingly. 

According to the ADHA timelines, we can expect the Active Script List method of ePrescribing to be included from August, 2020. This staged approach is intended to help ensure that patient access to medicines is carefully monitored and safeguarded.

The ADHA has also advised that we can expect to see more widespread deployment of ePrescribing by September, 2020. At this early stage, the Communities of Interest play a crucial part in ensuring that when we do roll out ePrescribing on a widespread scale, everyone is ready and it runs as smoothly and seamlessly as possible. 

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