Paperless drugs benefit scheme by 2011

UK-based IT company Fivium is working with the Department of Health and Ageing to bring the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) drug evaluation out of the paper age.

UK-based IT company Fivium is working with the Department of Health and Ageing to bring the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) drug evaluation out of the paper age.

Drugs

(These pills are fine to pass the time image by
Melanie Tata, CC2.0)

The PBS is a $7.7 billion taxpayer-funded program that allows the government to subsidise the prescription medicines on a list managed by the Department of Health and Ageing's pharmaceutical branch. In the 2008/2009 financial year, approximately 182 million prescriptions were subsidised for the Australian public.

For drugs to be added to the PBS list, they must first pass an evaluation. The circulation, evaluation and assessment of submissions for drugs to be added to the PBS within the pharmaceutical branch are mostly done manually on paper, with communication also conducted by telephone, letter, email and fax. Fivium said pushing this evaluation process from paper to an IT system will require the consolidation of at least six existing internal systems.

The goal of the IT redevelopment is to allow compliant drugs to be added to the PBS list within a month of evaluation.

The Department of Health and Ageing first announced the move from a paper-based documentation system for the PBS in November 2009, when a tender was put out for a new digital system.

The tender was awarded at the end of the last financial year and the 14-month project is expected to be completed towards the end of 2011. The development and subsequent support, running until 2015, will net the company $1.6 million.

"Fivium is very excited to be working with [Department of Health and Ageing] on the PharmCIS system," Fivium Australia director Clayton Blake said in a statement. "The PBS scheme is recognised as one of the most advanced drug subsidy systems in the world. Our aim is to develop a far superior system that will set the benchmark within the industry."

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