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Electronic Transfer of Prescription (ETP) involves the creation of an electronic message (alongside a legal paper prescription) which is transmitted to a prescription exchange service (PES). A pharmacy can then dispense the medications from the paper prescription, but supported by electronically retrieving the prescription details from the PES to improve efficiency and reduce the opportunity for errors transcribing prescription information from paper.

In Australia, vendors can use specifications for ETP Level 1 from ATS4888.2-2013, which allows transfer of electronic prescriptions (from paper prescriptions) in a nationally consistent manner.  

Prescribing Flow Diagram

Electronic Transfer of Prescription flow

  1. The prescribing clinician, after consultation with the patient, prescribes the patient their medication. This information is captured in the clinician’s local system and a paper prescription is handed to the patient.
  2. The prescribing system uploads the prescription to a prescription exchange service (PES).
  3. The dispensing pharmacist receives the paper prescription from the patient and, retrieves the prescription from the PES.
  4. The pharmacist, after validating and dispensing the medication to the patient, records the information in the dispensing system, which uploads that information to the PES.


Feature specifications

The Australian Digital Health Agency has provided the following specifications that apply to electronic prescribing described above:

Supporting specifications


November, 2017
This initial release of the end product introduces the national requirements for electronic prescriptions that guide software systems implementing electronic prescriptions. The electronic prescribing end product provides specification and guidance documents for software systems creating and processing prescriptions in electronic form.
September, 2017
The national requirements for electronic prescriptions provide a set of key principles for a safe system to support prescribing and dispensing of prescriptions in the electronic environment within the relevant legislative framework. The objectives of the national requirements for electronic prescriptions are security and integrity, availability and assurance.