Electronic Transfer of Prescription



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.



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

Current Specifications: 

The Electronic Prescribing end product provides specification and guidance documents for software systems creating and processing prescriptions in electronic form.

Supporting Specifications: 

The supporting documents on this page provide background and guidance for healthcare provider organisations, and conformance, compliance and accreditation requirements for vendors.


The National Authentication Service for Health (NASH) makes it possible for healthcare providers and supporting organisations to securely access and exchange health information.
NASH provides Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) Certificates that help you or your organisation to:


The Secure Messaging Integration Toolkit contains libraries for B2B connectivity to Secure Message Delivery (SMD) and Endpoint Location Services (ELS), providing sample code for all operations, as well as a Medical Document Management (MDM) library to create the payload for SMD.

External Specifications: 
ATS4888.1 – Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (Platform Independent Logical Information Model)
ATS4888.2 – Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (Platform Independent Logical Services Model)
ATS4888.3 – Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (e-Prescription CDA Implementation Guide)
ATS4888.4 – Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (Dispense Record CDA Implementation Guide)
ATS4888.5 – Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (Prescription Request CDA Implementation Guide)
ATS4888.6 – Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (Implementation Specific Web Service)

By operation of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Establishing the Australian Digital Health Agency) Rule 2016, on 1 July 2016, all the assets and liabilities of NEHTA will vest in the Australian Digital Health Agency. In this website, on and from 1 July 2016, all references to "National E-Health Transition Authority" or "NEHTA" will be deemed to be references to the Australian Digital Health Agency. PCEHR means the My Health Record, formerly the "Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record", within the meaning of the My Health Records Act 2012 (Cth), formerly called the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records Act 2012 (Cth).

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