Electronic prescribing provides an option for prescribers and their patients to have a digital prescription as an alternative to a paper prescription. Electronic prescribing is not mandatory, and patients and prescribers will be able to choose an electronic or a paper version of their prescription.
Through the 2018/19 Commonwealth Budget, the Government announced support for the implementation of electronic prescribing. The Commonwealth Department of Health (Health) is leading the work to enable electronic prescribing and has overall accountability for the electronic prescribing project. Health has partnered with the Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency) to develop the technical components of the project, including the solution architecture and a conformance framework supporting the legal prescribing and dispensing of medicines and subsequent Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) claiming from electronic prescriptions.
The Agency is undertaking implementation activities throughout 2019 and 2020 to support the delivery of electronic prescribing.
The Agency has now released the final technical framework documents.
Implementation of electronic prescribing
The implementation of electronic prescribing requires the development of regulatory and technical frameworks, and changes to existing systems and software that will enable the safe and secure use of an electronic prescription as a legal alternative to a paper prescription.
Electronic prescribing is the process by which a prescription is electronically generated by a prescriber through prescribing software and securely transmitted to a prescription delivery service to be available for dispensing and supply through dispensing software. Where applicable, a record of supply can then be electronically sent to DHS for PBS claiming purposes.
1. Regulatory framework
The introduction of the electronic prescription as a legal form has involved changes to Commonwealth Regulations. Health has detailed the form of the electronic prescription and the IT requirements for clinical software. Changes have been made to the PBS claim for payment system to support the new arrangements.
The Commonwealth has engaged with the states and territories to ensure amendments are aligned across Commonwealth, state and territory legislation to deliver a nationally consistent electronic prescribing framework.
2. Technical framework
The Australian Digital Health Agency has developed the technical framework to support electronic prescribing. This technical framework details the requirements for clinical software to ensure alignment with the regulatory framework, adherence to privacy and security principles and maintenance of patient choice. The technical framework identifies the required clinical software changes and has been developed in consultation with the clinical software sector.
Changes to the PBS claim for payment system has been managed by the Department of Human Services (DHS).
How will the Agency support implementation of electronic prescribing?
To participate in electronic prescribing, developers will be required to attest that their software meets the requirements in the Electronic Prescribing Conformance Profile. The Agency will provide software developers of systems participating in electronic prescribing support to deliver electronic prescribing functionality.
In developing new electronic prescribing functionality, software developers can access guidance on interpreting and understanding the technical documents developed through the Agency’s Developer Centre.
The Agency’s Developer Centre will host additional content to assist developers through the process from readiness through development, test, declaration of conformance, and operations.
Learn more about the technical framework development
At the outset of the electronic prescribing project, the Agency and Health committed to a process of co-design and the Agency established the Electronic Prescribing Technical Working Group (TWG). TWG membership includes representatives from prescribing software vendors (community and acute care), dispensing software vendors (community and acute care), aged care software vendors, prescription exchange service providers, peak medical and pharmacy bodies, consumers, state health departments, DHS and Health.
Since December 2018, the TWG has met via:
- Teleconference (December 2018; March 2019; September 2019)
- Face-to-face workshops (January 2019; February 2019 x 2; April 2019; September 2019)
- Additional sub-group workshops (software vendor architect workshop February 2019; software vendor workshop June 2019).
Contributions from TWG members and their formal feedback from multiple consultation rounds has led to the development of the key technical artefacts to support the development of electronic prescribing software. These technical documents include:
- A Solution Architecture to provide an overview of the architectural components of the end-to-end national electronic prescribing framework;
- A Conformance Assessment Scheme which describes the scheme for assessing the conformance of software against the Conformance Profile involved in the electronic prescribing process; and
- A Conformance Profile to summarise the functional and non-functional requirements for software that supports participation in electronic prescribing.
Preliminary versions of these documents were first provided via this developer centre webpage on 24 September 2019. These were drafts for software vendors to have early access to the technical framework.