‘Tassie is joining the brigade of e-scripts.’

E-scripts are being successfully dispensed at community pharmacies in Launceston

One of Tasmania’s first e-prescriptions was dispensed at TerryWhite Chemmart Prospect Vale in Launceston last week, the Pharmacy Guild Tasmanian branch has announced.

This script was part of the token model, which provides patients with a “token”—usually in the form of a QR code—sent to their mobile device or their email.

The pharmacy, owned by Christine Timms, belongs to a ‘community of interest’ that includes pharmacies and general practices in the Launceston area.

AJP understand this is currently the only such community of interest in Tasmania.

“Tassie is joining the brigade of e-scripts. It’s actually happening, and we want to make sure the community recognises doctors may mention it to them,” Monique Mackrill, Tasmanian branch director at the Pharmacy Guild, told AJP.

“Also too with some of these interim measures brought in with COVID-19 around digital prescriptions, fax or email, the onus is on the GP to keep the original script, and faxes create issues for pharmacies too. E-scripts are very timely, although we want people to know they’ll have a still have a choice between e-scripts and paper.”

The token model is set to go live across Australia, outside of communities of interest, in August.

Meanwhile the Active Scripts List (ASL) model is scheduled roll out across the country in October, the Australian Digital Health Agency has confirmed.

The Federal Government announced fast tracking of e-prescriptions in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over recent months a range of measures have been introduced to ensure that people can continue to access healthcare including telehealth consultations and this has impacted on the way that prescriptions have been supplied to pharmacies for dispensing.

In Tasmania this has meant changes to legislation to recognise prescriptions that may have been faxed or emailed from practices – and for busy pharmacies and general practice, it has resulted in increased workload.

E-prescriptions will alleviate some of the confusion occurring with faxed or email prescriptions, says the Guild Tasmanian branch.

“An e-prescription generates a QR code which is then sent by SMS or email to the patient,” explains John Dowling, president of the Pharmacy Guild Tasmanian branch.

“The patient simply attends their regular pharmacy, where pharmacy staff will scan the QR code into their regular dispensing system and the particulars of the medication prescribed will be populated in the dispense system ready to be dispensed like a normal prescription.”

Mr Dowling said that the token model is appropriate for people who are not taking multiple medications, suitable for an antibiotic as an example.

“We’ve accepted the token model as the first step but we obviously prefer the idea of the ASL which we think is much more practical in pharmacy, especially for people receiving multiple prescriptions,” he told AJP.

“We think the token model could cause confusion with people getting multiple scripts, apparently ASL is the next stage, [but] we’re trying to help roll out e-scripts by supporting the token model.

“Toward the end of the year the ASL model will also be available, which suits people on multiple medications.”

He said take-up of e-scripts will be “patient-driven, as doctors start providing more e-scripts and people get used to them.

“Pharmacy will have to be able to accommodate them, it’s always what patients demand. It’s going to be a bit of a hassle to start with, but once it starts to get into pharmacists’ normal workflow, it should streamline work practices.”

Mr Dowling re-iterated that “normal paper prescriptions will still be available from doctors and pharmacy staff will be able to help educate customers to better understand e-prescriptions.”

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