Electronic prescribing a new era for general practice

GP Connect clinical feature by Mayli Foong BPharm, MPS, AACPA, MBA GP Pharmacists

Electronic Prescribing, or ePrescribing is the electronic transfer of a prescription for dispensing. This process replaces the use of the paper prescription giving flexibility to the patient and prescriber. Just like a paper prescription, electronic scripts are a legal form of prescription.

The introduction of electronic prescribing is great news for medicine, you and your patients. It improves patient safety and provides a better experience for you and your patients. As with any change to a large system it takes time to implement, however if our COVID-19 response has taught us anything we are able to change the way we work more quickly than we had previously imagined. We are confident that all systems are in place. Here’s what you need to know;

What is a TokenScript?
Your patient receives their prescription as a token (QR code) via SMS, rather than a paper script. Your patient presents their token at their preferred pharmacy where the script is scanned and dispensed as normal. Repeats are returned to the patient via SMS.

How does TokenScript work?
A script link is sent electronically to the patient or carer. Your patient can choose to receive this link on their smartphone via SMS or email. Opening the link will reveal the QR code held in the ‘cloud’ by prescription exchange (PE) until it is dispensed by the pharmacy. QR codes are able to be viewed in compatible apps such as MedAdvisor®.

The pharmacy scans the QR code to download the script information for dispensing. Repeats are returned to the patient via SMS. Once the prescription has been dispensed, the QR code is inactivated. Token scripts are not able to be converted to paper based prescriptions and repeats.

Can I use this for all my patients?
Your patient must have an IHI number registered in your practice software. Phones need to be able to receive an SMS, have internet access and a web browser. Each script will have a separate token, so this may not be suitable for patients on multiple medicines or blister packs. Paper tokens can be printed by the practice or pharmacy if this is your patient’s preferred method of handling their QR codes. Some pharmacies are not yet equipped to dispense electronic prescriptions, so it may depend on your patient’s preferred pharmacy.

What if my patient deletes the SMS?
For original prescriptions, patients need to contact their practice to resend the prescription via SMS. For repeat prescriptions, patients need to contact their dispensing pharmacy to resend the repeat via SMS.

I cancel a prescription?
TokenScripts can be cancelled by the prescriber on their practice software. This will remove the script/repeats from the prescription exchange (PE) in real time. Patients will receive a message when they open the link that their script has been cancelled.

Are pharmacies in my area accepting TokenScripts?
Most pharmacies have now updated their software to dispense token prescriptions. Check with your local pharmacies if their software is compliant. If your practice has a GP Pharmacist, they will be able to liaise with pharmacies in your local area and give you a list of pharmacies ready for token script dispensing.

Is my software compatible?
WA Health has a list of compatible software products available.

Things to remember:

  • Patients must have a smart phone with internet access for this service
  • GP and Pharmacies must both be using compliant software
  • Always confirm your patient’s mobile number prior to sending the SMS
  • Always confirm the SMS is received before completing the consult.

For more information, see the recently published ‘Electronic Prescribing’ HealthPathway.

Active Script List (ASL) Coming soon
Active Script List, next generation of electronic prescriptions, is expected to be rolled out in 2021. Patients will ‘opt in’ to the ASL model at a pharmacy before a doctor can send a script via ASL. It is proposed that patients will be able to access e-prescriptions without a token. This will be useful for patients on multiple medicines or blister packs. It is expected that the patient will be able to control access to who can view the list.