National Prescription Delivery Service, formerly referred to as Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (ETP) or ePrescription, describes the safe and secure transfer of prescription information between a prescriber (doctor, specialist, dentist, optometrist, nurse practitioner, and so on) and a community pharmacy using an electronic system known as a Prescription Exchange Service (PES).
Electronic transfer of prescriptions starts when a clinician prints a prescription from their clinical software which then sends a copy of the information on the prescription to a repository called the Prescription Delivery Service (PDS). When the patient presents their paper prescription to the pharmacist, the barcode is scanned, and the information is sent directly to the pharmacy dispensing system from the PDS without the need to re-enter the information.
How do ETP and the PDS work?
The electronic copy of the prescription is held securely in the PDS. When a paper prescription is presented to an ETP-enabled pharmacy, the barcode will be scanned allowing the dispensing system to automatically download and decrypt the prescription information from the PDS. This information is then used to automatically populate the pharmacy dispensing system including patient name, concession, Medicare and the statutory prescription information.
There is currently only one pharmacy dispensing systems available — eRx Script Exchange. eRx PDS has been approved by the Commonwealth and is required to meet specified standards relating to security and privacy.
What are the benefits of Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (ETP)?
Ensuring that medicines information can be accurately and securely shared underpins a range of medications management and healthcare benefits for both patients and healthcare professionals. From a patients perspective there is benefit from improved health outcomes as the risk of transcription errors is greatly reduced. This contributes to reducing the likelihood of preventable adverse drug events.
Benefits of Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (ETP):
- Improved confidentiality, quality and efficiency of the prescribing and dispensing process
- Security of medication information
- Increased clarity and communication of prescription information between the prescriber and dispenser
- Rapid information exchange
- Potential reduction in medication and dispensing errors
- Potential decline in adverse drug events
- Time and workflow efficiencies for pharmacy staff as there is no need to re-enter information
- Enables upload of prescription and dispensing records to the My Health Record
- Supports the technical requirements for electronic prescriptions.
How to implement Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (ETP):
ETP is the foundation for other medication management initiatives such as National Prescription and Dispense Repository. This repository contains a combined list of prescribed and dispensed medications regardless of how many different doctors and pharmacies the patient regularly visits. It may contain prescription data from the community, hospital and aged care settings.
Requirements for Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (ETP)
- Prescribing and dispensing software that is capable of sending ETP (most software in Australia is capable; if you are unsure check with your vendor)
- Security and authentication keys must be correctly installed and operating in the software. This will ensure the prescription is securely encrypted before it leaves the prescribing clinical software and the organisation is identified as the sender
- The prescribing and dispensing organisations must have a Healthcare Provider Identifier – Organisation (HPI-O) and this must be recorded in the prescribing and dispensing software
- Individual healthcare providers participating in ETP must have a Healthcare Provider Identifier – Individual (HPI-I) and this must be recorded in the prescribing and dispensing software
- Participating organisations must be connected to the Healthcare Identifier (HI) service
- The healthcare organisation must register with either or both PDS and also register each individual healthcare provider with the PDS
- Clinical software must be configured for ETP. Tip – Prescribers will know if they are ETP-enabled if their prescriptions print with a barcode
For more information
As of July 2023 'electronic Transfer of Prescriptions' or 'ePrescription' is known as the 'National Prescription Delivery Service'. The Australian Government recognised a national approach is required for the transfer of electronic prescriptions, as nearly 300 million PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) prescriptions occur between prescribers and dispensers a year, the cost of sending and receiving electronic prescriptions is now covered under the PDS.
Under the National Prescription Delivery Service electronic medication charts will be extended into palliative care and long-term policy will now be mandating the use of electronic prescription for high-risk and high-cost medicines.
Fred IT’s eRx Script exchange has been contracted to deliver the National Prescription Delivery Service.
Resources for Electronic Prescribing
Electronic Prescribing Active Script List (ASL) Privacy Framework
Department of Health and Aged Care. . The Electronic Prescribing Active Script List (ASL) Privacy Framework describes the privacy, identity and consent processes that relate to release 1 of the implementation of Active Script List functionality.
Electronic Prescriptions Security and Access Policy
Department of Health and Aged Care. The Electronic Prescriptions Security and Access Policy describes how health care provider organisations must manage the security and integrity of their software, to make sure they dispense electronic prescriptions securely.
Department of Health and Aged Care. This policy outlines the privacy responsibilities of non-government organisations involved in the electronic prescribing process.
Electronic Prescriptions Data Usage Policy
Department of Health and Aged Care. This policy describes how personal information and related data contained in electronic prescriptions is collected, used and disclosed.
PBS hospital medication chart
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care produced the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme hospital medication chart (PBS HMC) to support the prescribing, administration claiming and supply of PBS and non-PBS medicines directly from the chart without the need for a separate paper prescription in hospital settings.
National residential medication chart
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care produced the national residential medication chart (NRMC) for use in residential aged care facilities (RACF). It works to improve medication safety for residents, and to minimise the administrative burden of prescribers, aged care staff, and pharmacists when ordering, administering and supplying medicines.
Electronic Prescribing Privacy Impact Assessment Summary
This Department of Health and Ages Care report details the Summary of Privacy Impact Assessment on the Electronic Prescribing Project. Electronic Prescribing is being implemented to increase PBS compliance and efficiency, improve drug safety, and support better data collection.
Need help with going digital?
Setting up a digital practice can seem daunting, but we are here to help you. No matter what stage of the process you are in, reach out to the SWSPHN (South Western Sydney Primary Health Network) Digital Health team for help and resources.