E-scripts in Qld given green light

Queensland is the final state in Australia to pass the requisite legislation, with national e-prescribing now set to become a reality

New legislation allowing electronic prescriptions to be used as a legal alternative to paper scripts has been passed this month in Queensland.

Queensland is the final state to pass the requisite legal instrument, which means all states and territories in Australia are now legally enabled for e-prescribing.

The requirements were approved on 10 July, with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk publicly announcing the news in the past week.

“Queenslanders will soon have the option to receive their prescriptions by email or text message as an alternative to the standard paper-based system,” said Ms Palaszczuk.

“We’re rolling out these changes to support the health of Queenslanders and make it easier for people to access the medication they need.”

Queensland Health has published a factsheet on e-prescribing for health professionals here.

PSA said it had been calling on the government for this “common-sense” move for some time.

“We called on the Queensland government to allow patients to start using electronic prescriptions, like the rest of the country. Whilst we lead in some areas, from a digital enablement perspective we have been in the dark ages,” Shane MacDonald, Queensland PSA Branch President, told AJP on Friday.

“E-prescriptions will allow us to move digital image prescriptions to the side, put the patient back in control and cut the confusion and red tape that digital image prescriptions has caused,” he said.

“While necessary at the time, it could have contributed to medication safety issues, tensions between medical practice and pharmacy, and caused increased administrative burden on our pharmacists who are not remunerated any more to supply medications in this way.”

Mr MacDonald urged the rapid roll-out of e-prescriptions across the state “so all Queenslanders can benefit”.

“As we look to prepare for a second wave of [COVID-19], no doubt there will be more telehealth consults by patients’ regular GP. The token model will enable them to safely receive and send a script to their pharmacy of choice,” he said.

The token model of e-prescribing is currently being trialled within ‘communities of interest’ across the country, with scope for e-prescriptions to go live outside of these communities in the months to come.

Active Script Lists (ASL) should also become available by the end of the year, according to government sources.

E-prescribing has been progressing in leaps and bounds in recent weeks and months, with Western Australia announcing it had dispensed its first e-script on 28 July. South Australia and Tasmania also dispensed their first e-scripts during July. 

Australia’s first ever e-script was prescribed and dispensed in Victoria on 6 May.

To be enabled for e-prescriptions, pharmacies across the country need to get prepared by ensuring that the correct software and hardware are in place. See this checklist on requirements here.

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