Dispensing :: Electronic Prescribing and Dispensing of Medicines

Electronic prescribing and dispensing of medicines is a key initiative of the Australian Government aimed at improving the delivery and quality of health care and achieve better health outcomes.

What is it?

Electronic prescribing and dispensing of medicines is a key initiative of all Australian Governments aimed at improving the delivery and quality of health care and achieving better health outcomes. Electronic prescribing and dispensing enables all stages of the prescribing, supply of medicine, and claiming process to be completed electronically. It will provide an alternative to the current paper based prescription system. Prescriptions will be created and signed electronically by prescribers.

The new, streamlined process will allow for a prescription to be entered electronically by a medical practitioner, authenticated via an electronic signature, and transmitted securely for dispensing by a pharmacy. The pharmacy can then make claims electronically to Medicare Australia.

What are the benefits?

Electronic prescribing and dispensing has the potential to deliver a range of real benefits including:

* Improved confidentiality and security of health information;
* Better clarity and communication of prescription information;
* Rapid information exchange;
* More time with health professionals due to less paperwork;
* Reduction in medication error;
* Decline in adverse drug events; and
* Mitigate against fraud risks present in the paper-based process.

When will it start?

The Australian Government has removed Commonwealth legislative barriers to electronic prescribing and dispensing of PBS medicines by implementing changes to the National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Amendment Regulations 2006. The regulatory amendments will become effective on 1 March 2007. In addition to Commonwealth amendments, any state and territory legislative barriers have been identified and are currently being removed to align with the Commonwealth amendments and to provide the rules for electronic prescribing and dispensing in each jurisdiction. Work is currently underway on the development of key standards, finalising jurisdictional legislative amendments, and the establishment of a national health information regulatory framework.

These steps will enable full-scale national electronic prescribing and dispensing implementation. The initial focus will be on small-scale implementations in controlled settings that provide a platform for electronic prescribing and dispensing activity while informing the development of any subsequent large-scale national implementation. Proposals from interested parties will be assessed against principles and guidelines currently being prepared by the Department of Health and Ageing and Medicare Australia.

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