Keeping watch

A new real time prescription monitoring service will create greater transparency across borders, and new drugs of concern will be added

ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith has announced that the Territory’s prescribers and pharmacists will soon have access to a new and improved real time prescription monitoring service.

The new system, which is rolling out to early adopter sites later this year, will help reduce pharmaceutical harm in the community, she says.

“Australia has a growing problem with the misuse and abuse of pharmaceuticals. This can have a devastating impact on individuals and their families,” said Ms Stephen-Smith.

“Canberra Script will give ACT doctors, nurse practitioners and pharmacists a better view of what their consumers are using. This supports practitioners to provide safe care for ACT residents,” said Minister Stephen-Smith.

Canberra Script will include real time alerts and notifications through compatible medical and pharmacy software where patients may be exhibiting signs of drug-seeking behaviour such as attending a number of different medical practices.

The system will replace the existing DAPIS Online Remote Access (DORA) real time prescription monitoring system.

Canberra Script forms part of the national RTPM system being implemented across Australia. Each jurisdiction will implement their own local version of the national RTPM system with core features and functionality to enable national consistency.

Canberra Script is not intended to disadvantage consumers where there is a legitimate clinical need for a medicine and where a prescriber is authorised to prescribe a medicine for them, Ms Stephen-Smith pointed out.

“Canberra Script provides a much better user experience for prescribers and pharmacists; it gives practitioners access to a new RTPM system that has improved functionality and features. Useability has been key in the development of this new system, delivering an interface that is easier to understand and use,” she said.

The ACT Health Directorate says it is working with the Australian Government and other partners to make the system available for early adopter pilot sites in 2021, before rolling it out to all providers in early 2022.

“We have begun engaging with practitioners across the ACT to inform them of the new system, its benefits and key features.

“Working directly with practitioners and representative groups and seeking their feedback on the system now, we aim to deliver a system across the ACT that all health practitioners who prescribe or dispense monitored medicines will want to use.

“Canberra Script is one way we can reduce harm from drug use. The ACT Government is committed to investing in evidence based and practice-informed harm minimisation responses to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

“We will continue to work with healthcare providers and community organisations to improve the health and wellbeing of all Canberrans,” said Minister Stephen-Smith.

Simon Blacker, president of the Pharmacy Guild’s ACT branch, told the AJP that the organisation welcomes the move.

“The Pharmacy Guild is supportive of the ACT Government’s decision to upgrade our RTM service with improved features and functionality, and with integration into the national datafeed,” Mr Blacker said.

“We’ve spoken to pharmacy owners in the Territory and they all believe it’s an improvement which will allow us to make better clinical decisions with our patients.

“By it becoming a nationally integrated system, we will have greater transparency across borders – there was always a limitation with the existing system from that point of view,” he said.

“It wasn’t an integrated system. It required health practitioners, either GPs or pharmacists, to log into another system to view that data.

“It’s going to become integrated, so that we will get pop-ups – the systems will talk to each other behind the scenes. It’s much more seamless, the data is more accessible more quickly and should allow better clinical decisions to be made there and then.”

Mr Blacker also noted that new drugs of concern will be added to the ACT’s monitoring, including benzodiazepines, codeine and gabapentinoids.

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