Electronic Prescriptions

ePrescriptions Update - 7 December 2020

All prescribers must have their software upgraded by 1st February to allow the capability to ‘active ingredient prescribe’; this is mandated.

This means that from 1st February 2021, all GPs who update their software will have the capability to issue ePrescriptions.

The Department of Health confirmed it is sending out Active Ingredient Prescribing (AIP, or generic prescribing) information to GPs from today. AIP will be mandatory from 1st February.

Patient Choice is key for ePrescriptions: Prescribers cannot direct patients to have their medication dispensed by a specific pharmacy. Patients must also retain the choice of having an eScript or paper-based prescription.

This message is to ensure that Members are prepared for ePrescriptions.

National expansion of ePrescriptions – consistent principles
(as provided to the ADHA Peaks and Partners meeting today, 3 December)

  1. Pharmacies must be ready to dispense ePrescriptions ahead of GPs using electronic prescribing.
  2. Pharmacists should contact their software providers and ask them to activate electronic prescribing functionality. GP activation will follow closely behind once they have confirmed local pharmacy readiness.
  3. Communication between local pharmacies and practices is crucial to ensure both are ready to issue and dispense ePrescriptions.
  4. A patient can always choose where their prescriptions are dispensed and whether it’s via paper or eScript.
  5. Roll-out should prioritise areas with the greatest need first.

If pharmacists and practices have made the preparations above (steps 2 and 3), they can and should commence electronic prescribing in line with their patients’ choice.

Further advice will be regularly updated on the Guild Member website.

Electronic prescriptions enable the prescribing, dispensing and claiming of medicines without the need for a paper prescription.

The Australian Government, in collaboration with states and territories, have accelerated the delivery of electronic prescription due to the impact of COVID-19. Where available, electronic prescribing will provide patients with the option to receive either an electronic or paper-based prescription from their prescriber.

In the upcoming weeks, Electronic Prescriptions are set to roll out across Metropolitan Sydney, encompassing Hornsby shire in the north, to the city of Campbelltown in the south and the city of Penrith in the west.

Preparing Your Pharmacy:

  • Ensure your pharmacy has a Healthcare Provider Identifier-Organisation (HPI-O) and is connected to the HI service.
    This is a mandatory requirement - information about how to register for a HPI-O is available here;
  • Ensure your pharmacy is connected to an open Prescription Delivery Service via a prescription exchange service such as eRx and MediSecure;
  • Enable QR codes on your barcode scanners following your manufacturer’s instructions;
  • Update your patients’ and carers’ contact details on file (mobile phone number/email);
  • Subscribe to software provider correspondence;
  • Stay up to date with communication from the Guild;
  • Ensure you know current legal rules that are specific to your state/territory such as the management of controlled medicines;
  • Ensure your staff is informed and aware of electronic prescribing, including addressing patient’s questions and queries

For specific dispensing software information including FAQs, please select from below:


Guidelines for dispensing a conformant electronic prescription

(Source: Judith Mackson, Chief Pharmacist and Director, Chief Pharmacist Unit,
Ministry of Health)

  • The pharmacy proprietor and the dispensing pharmacist must ensure that all of the systems participating in the prescribing, transmission and dispensing of the prescription conform under the national Electronic Prescribing Conformance Assessment Scheme and that the electronic prescription has the details required for it to be legally valid in NSW.
  • The on-screen display only is the legally valid prescription. The paper or digital token presented to the pharmacy is not a legal prescription.
  • The requirements for conformant electronic prescriptions are the same as for paper prescriptions with a few variations:
    • Patient date of birth is required.
    • Prescribers do not need to hand write or hand sign the prescription, nor underline or initial any dose that could be regarded as dangerous or unusual
    • S4B and S8 medicine prescriptions do not need to be kept in hardcopy nor stored separately.
    • Repeats of electronic prescriptions for S4B and S8 medicines do not have to be dispensed at the same pharmacy which dispensed the original supply. A patient may take the new token for the repeat prescription to a different pharmacy.
    • For S8 medicine prescriptions, the quantity to be dispensed does not need to be written in words in addition to figures.
    • For S8 medicine prescriptions that include all required details, a pharmacist does not need to contact the prescriber to verify the prescription where the pharmacist does not know the patient. If a pharmacist has doubt about the identity of the prescriber or any other aspect of the prescription or the patient’s treatment he/she should contact the prescriber directly.
  • A prescription for a S4B or S8 medicine with repeat/s specified must show an interval for repeats. If no repeat interval appears, directions for any repeat supplies are invalid and no repeats can be dispensed. The prescription should be electronically cancelled to prevent a new token from being issued.
  • The on-screen display must show the NSW Authority number where required, for:
    • a S8 psychostimulant (e.g. dexamfetamine, lisdexamfetamine, methylphenidate)
    • a pharmacist-compounded S8 medicine
    • a S4 medicine listed in clause 37 of the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008 (e.g. clomiphene, isotretinoin), unless the prescriber belongs to an authorised specialist group and the prescription includes the prescriber’s relevant specialist qualification and “issued under clause 37 of the Poisons Regulation” or words to that effect.

Pharmacists must be confident the token presented by the patient or his/her authorised agent has not been fraudulently obtained or altered.

Training & Education:

The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) offers free online learning modules addressing the following modules:

  1. Introducing electronic prescription
  2. Using electronic prescriptions
  3. Preparing for electronic prescriptions

Upon successful completion of these modules, pharmacists will be able to self-record for CPD credits.

To access these free online courses, visit https://training.digitalhealth.gov.au.

Additional Resources:

Previous Guild Alerts:

For further assistance, please contact the Membership Department
P: 02 9467 7120  Email: membership@nsw.guild.org.au
Office Hours: Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm

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Page last updated on: 05 March 2021