Digital Health

Digital health is the transfer of health resources and health care by electronically connecting up the points of care so that health information can be shared securely.

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Digital health and Community Pharmacy

Community pharmacy in Australia leads the way in terms of its willingness to embrace Digital health and adopt innovative technologies and strategies in its mission to offer the highest standard of pharmacy and health care services.

Whether those innovations are technological, systematic or strategic in nature, the Guild has developed the necessary infrastructure and culture to implement innovation efficiently across the community pharmacy network and in such a way as to deliver significant benefits to the public.

In the area of digital health, no other profession has done more than community pharmacy in terms of investing resources to support moves to the digital health model. Key examples are:

  • PBS Online – this claiming platform was rolled out nationally in 2007 and had rapid uptake. It is now used by community pharmacies to allow 99.6% of PBS prescriptions to be claimed and adjudicated online and in real time. PBS Online is a testament to the willingness and ability of community pharmacy to embrace new technologies where the Guild and dispensing software vendors are actively involved in their design and where appropriate remuneration is provided.
  • Patient support through IT solutions - the GuildCare suite of programs assist pharmacists in the delivery of professional services and support, including medication management programs, compliance and adherence programs.
  • Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (ETP) - community pharmacy has consistently looked for ways to utilise technology to improve patient care and safety in the area of medication management. Community pharmacy was the first health profession to have their clinical records fully computerised. The Guild has fostered the development of a national ETP system through the companies’ eRx ( and Fred Health (

My Health Record

The national My Health Record system (previously known as the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record or PCEHR) is an Australian Government initiative designed to allow doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers, such as pharmacists to view and share patients’ health information in order to improve patient care.

A My Health Record is a secure online summary of a person’s health information. Healthcare providers are able to add clinical information to the person’s My Health Record, in accordance with their access controls. This may include information such as medical history and treatments, diagnoses, medications and allergies. My Health Records are controlled by patients and secured and maintained by the Australian Digital Health Agency (the System Operator).

The My Health Record system is providing pharmacists and other healthcare professionals with quick access to information about their patients’ health. This includes information on medications, allergies and previous adverse reactions. The system aims to better connect pharmacists to patients and their prescribers, making the prescribing and dispensing of medications safer and more streamlined.

My Health Record Statistics

As at 23 November 2016:

  • Over 4.3 million people have a My Health Record, with an average of 1 new record being created every 38 seconds.
  • Over 6.3 million prescription and dispense records have been uploaded.
  • Over 9,500 healthcare providers are connected, including GPs, hospitals, pharmacies, aged care residential services, allied health.
  • Over 1.2 million clinical documents have been uploaded.

Connecting to My Health Record

To connect to the My Health Record system you will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Register with the Healthcare Identifiers Services and obtain a HPI-O , you can do this online via the Australian Digital Health Agency:
  2. Register to participate in the My Health Record System, you can do this online via the Australian Digital Health Agency
  3. Apply for and obtain a National Authentication Service for Health (NASH) Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) Certificate, you can do this online via the Australian Digital Health Agency.
    • There are two types of NASH PKI Certificates – one for organisations and one for individual providers. The type of Certificate will depend on how providers in the pharmacy will be accessing the My Health Record. If providers will be accessing through conformant clinical software, the NASH PKI Certificate for Organisations will be needed. If providers will be accessing through the National Provider Portal, then each individual provider will require a NASH PKI Certificate for Individuals.
    • There are currently two software providers that are conformant with the My Health Record: Fred IT Group (Fred Dispense) and Simple Retail (Aquarius).
  4. Ensure you have an Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (ETP) product installed, speak with an ETP software provider (eRX or Medisecure) for more information and installation support
  5. Implement a My Health Record security and access Policy (see sample template here)
  6. Complete My Health Record training on using the My Health Record system (for example, via the My Health Record Online Training)

    There are a range of information and training resources available to help you in becoming familiar with My Health Record system’s features and functionalities and how you can use it in your pharmacy. These resources are available on the ‘For Healthcare Providers’ page on the My Health Record website (

My Health Records Legislation

The My Health Records Act 2012, the My Health Records Rule 2016 and the My Health Records Regulation 2012 create the legislative framework for the My Health Record system. This legislative framework ensures that only those authorised can access the My Health Record. Misuse of patient health information is a serious matter and penalties are used in the My Health Record system, amongst other protections, to safeguard that information from reckless or intentional misuse.

Pharmacies participating in the My Health Record system should be aware of the following information in relation to their obligations:

  • Know your obligations under the My Health Records Act: there are serious penalties if you don’t comply and your action is reckless or intentional.
  • Understand that while there are new obligations for information stored on the My Health Record system, you must continue to comply with your current legal obligations, for example privacy and confidentiality obligations.
  • Develop robust processes for handling My Health Records and ensure staff are adequately trained to follow them.
  • Update your privacy policy to explain to  your patients what information you intend to add to and access from their My Health Record and explain what you will do with the information.
  • Ensure that you do not collect more information from a My Health Record than is necessary to provide care to your patient.
  • Collect, use and disclose information in a patient’s My Health Record only for the limited and authorised purposes allowed under the My Health Record system, this includes for providing care to the patient.
  • Know how the My Health Record system can be used in an emergency situation.

National Prescription and Dispense Repository

The National Prescription and Dispense Repository (NPDR) is a medicines repository that has been developed by Fred IT Group on behalf of the Australian Government. The NPDR stores prescription and dispensed medications from different doctors, pharmacies and hospitals, that is indexed into an individual’s My Health Record. When a provider accesses a patient’s My Health Record, this information is retrieved from the NPDR and displayed to the provider in the patient’s My Health Record.

Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions

The Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (ETP) is an important foundation stone in community pharmacy’s role in digital health. ETP is the safe and secure transfer of prescription information between a prescriber (doctor, specialist, dentist, optometrist, nurse practitioner etc.) and a Community Pharmacy using an electronic system known as a Prescription Exchange Service (PES).




These resource documents are provided for general information purposes only. Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (the Guild) assumes no responsibility for the consequences of use of such information, nor for any infringement of third party intellectual property rights which may result from its use.

Before relying on the material in any important matter, users should carefully evaluate its accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance for their purposes, and should obtain any appropriate professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances.

The material may incorporate or summarise views, guidelines or recommendations of third parties. Such material does not necessarily reflect the considered views of the Guild, or indicate a commitment to a particular course of action. Links to other websites are provided for convenience and do not constitute endorsement of material at those sites, or any associated organisation, product or service.

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Page last updated 25 August 2017