An ‘exciting, nerve-wracking’ change

E-scripts are making a huge impact on the sector, and while some pharmacies have reported teething problems, Tasmanian pharmacist Christine Timms says her experience has been generally positive 

Being one of the first pharmacies in Tasmania to dispense an electronic prescription has been both exciting and a bit nerve wracking for all of us in the pharmacy. And for the patients as well.

We were well and truly ready, and had all the systems in place, but after years of paper-based scripts, dispensing our first electronic prescription was always going to be a big moment for all of us. It quite naturally took a little bit to get our heads around the fact we didn’t have that piece of paper in front of us which was something we have been so used to for many, many years.

But it all worked really smoothly. The process was fine and from the perspective of the dispensary software it has all worked very well.  We have had a few small issues to sort out with patients who have their scripts on an app but it is all good now.

We also work closely with our local prescriber so before we started we communicated with them so we knew who the prescribers are  and they knew who the pharmacies are that are in this Community of Interest. I gather there has been confusion in other parts of the country as to who is or isn’t in a Community of Interest but our close relationship with our prescribers means we had no problem.

Our prescribers have been proactively asking patients which pharmacies they go to so we haven’t had the experience of patients turning up with a token unexpectedly.

One thing we came across recently which we weren’t quite ready for was a token prescription for a compounded product. I rang a colleague who does most of the compounding in this region and asked if she could accept a token for a compounded product and then referred the patient on. I haven’t heard back so I am assuming it all went ok.

The repeat process is also easy with the token system. We just send the token back to the patient’s phone and it can be used for the repeat.

Our patients have been quite delighted with the new system but of course the first time you use it, it doesn’t go 100 per cent smoothly. However, we are very lucky to have a close and loyal patient base who are understanding.

The first patient was very excited to be part of the process and although it took a little longer to get through she was very patient and happy to be involved.

On the other hand we have had patients turn up who have been quite bewildered and unsure about having their prescription on their phone and perhaps weren’t expecting to receive it this way. We have been able to take them through the process, explain it to them and dispense their medicines.

We are getting more electronic prescriptions through but it is building up very, very gradually. Being in Tasmania we don’t face the urgent imperative that other jurisdictions are facing so we have the luxury of being able to introduce this new system in a more controlled pace.

But overall it is going well and it is exciting to be a part of.

*Christine Timms is proprietor of TerryWhite Chemmart Prospect Vale, Tasmania


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