29 June 2017

Support for move to electronic prescriptions

Drugs Pharmacy

The King Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation has recommended Australia move to replace paper-based prescriptions with an electronic-based system.

The review said the first step in this process would be the recognition of an electronic prescription as a valid legal record, something that is not currently the case.

Although there already was an e-script system in Australia, with around 35% of scripts uploaded to it, that barcode-based system had its limitations. This, combined with the “lack of a universal, consistent record of dispensed medicines (linked into patients’ electronic health records) is concerning”, the review said.

An integrated electronic prescription system would greatly reduce the risk of transcription errors and create time and workflow efficiencies for pharmacists, according to the review.

Messaging and coordination between prescribers and pharmacists would also be improved thanks to ubiquitous access to the same medicines record.

In a submission to the review, Fred IT, the owner of an electronic script service, said that over time, as electronic prescriptions became standard, there would be “a reduction in the risk of fraud, whilst enabling the failsafe monitoring of issues such as prescription shopping”.

A study of e-prescribing in the US found using e-health records to communicate prescription data between GPs and pharmacies “nearly halved the risk of dispensing errors when compared with printing the prescription and giving it to the patient”.

The review cited international examples of e-script systems being successfully introduced, with near universal uptake and linking to e-health records, such as in Norway, Sweden, Canada and Finland.