Lockdown drives uptake

eRx Script Exchange reports its 20 millionth electronic script, as new data shows how lockdowns drove change

Electronic prescription use has surged across Australia from June, spurred on by pharmacies and patients seeking remote and contactless options for medication supply during lockdown, says FRED IT.

The increased take-up has seen eRx Script Exchange achieve the milestone of 20 million electronic prescriptions since Australia launched national electronic prescriptions fifteen months ago.

More than 28,000 doctors prescribed 10.5 million of those, while 98% of the nation’s pharmacies produced 9.5 million repeats.

The rate of usage has increased as patients and health practitioners have been affected by recurring lockdowns, with the four months from June to September 2021 seeing:

  • 7.5 million electronic prescriptions created  
  • Scripts prescribed electronically doubling from 10% (one in 10) to the current rate of 19.5% (one in five)
  • NSW and the Australian Capital Territory experienced significant growth in lockdown (see graph)

Electronic prescriptions have been vital in providing patients and health professionals with additional flexibility during COVID-19, including the ability for patients to obtain their medicines without attending a clinic or pharmacy (where delivery is available), says FRED IT.

Electronic prescriptions have enabled patients in isolation or quarantine to maintain uninterrupted medication supply, it says.

Paul Naismith, pharmacist and CEO of Fred IT, says that electronic prescriptions have been central in enabling pharmacies and patients to adapt to the challenges of lockdown.

“Although we have seen widespread changes in pharmacy practice since the beginning of COVID-19, pharmacies have had to keep adapting to the Delta variant,” Mr Naismith said.

“Electronic prescriptions have played a key role in helping pharmacies manage practical issues around lockdown and social distancing, including reducing the potential time that patients are waiting in-store and the number of people in-store at any one time.”

According to Mr Naismith, lockdowns have seen patients also increasingly turning to pre-ordering of electronic prescriptions. 

“Patients have become more digitally capable during COVID-19 and this is driving rapid change in how they connect with pharmacies.

“In the past week, 14,000 patients pre-ordered electronic scripts through the MedView Flow network, which means they ordered from home or elsewhere before coming in to collect their medicine.

“The vast majority of these thousands of pre-ordered prescriptions are click and collect, although delivery services are growing.” 

Whilst pre-ordering prescriptions has always been possible, the removal of the need for the paper script follow-up has substantially streamlined the process for patients and pharmacies, FRED IT says.

Where pharmacies are using MedView Flow, electronic script orders are also submitted directly into the pharmacy queue, which further increases efficiencies. 

Patients now have access to a range of options for making pre-ordering scripts easier. The new “How can I get this prescription dispensed?” button on eRx digital tokens offers an increasing selection of apps and services.

The MedView Flow network, with 2600 participating pharmacies, is receiving prescription orders directly into the dispensary from Fast token send with MedView Patient Connect; WhatsApp from their My Script List; and medication management apps, including MedAdvisor, myPharmacyLink and Medmate.

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