Australian government to expand electronic prescriptions to metro Sydney

As part of plans to roll out the solution in stages nationwide.

The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has announced residents of metropolitan Sydney will gain access to electronic prescriptions this month as part of plans to expand the rollout of the solution.

Expanding the solution would see doctors send a unique QR code token via SMS or email to patients in place of a paper prescription. The QR code token could then be shared with a pharmacist who would scan it to view the prescription and dispense medicine.

Electronic prescriptions have been in use across Victoria since September.

The rollout of the solution was fast-tracked under the federal government's AU$2.4 billion health package to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

"There has been significant uptake of electronic prescriptions since they were first made available in May; since then, nearly 400,000 electronic prescriptions have been received by patients," ADHA CEO Amanda Cattermole said.

According to ADHA, more than 13,000 healthcare providers have attended online training and education sessions run by the agency ahead of the rollout.

"Community pharmacies across Sydney have been working to upgrade their dispensing software and review their in-pharmacy workflow to get ready for electronic prescriptions. The Guild looks forward to further releases of electronic prescriptions functionality providing more convenience for patients, especially those who are on multiple medicines," NSW Pharmacy Guild and national councillor Catherine Bronger said.

Providing metropolitan Sydney residents access to electronic prescriptions is part of the ADHA's plans to expand the solution in stages across Australia.

Plans to introduce an electronic prescription system in Australia have been in the works since 2018. The 2018-19 Budget funded a national electronic prescribing system with an aim to improve Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme efficiency, compliance, drug safety and data collection, and to enable a more efficient and user-friendly system for patients and prescribers.

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