Digital Scripts & ePrescribing

Digital Scripts

As an interim measure, digital scripts were introduced as part of the COVID-19 National Health Plan telehealth model. It allows GPs to send paper prescriptions electronically to pharmacists without having to mail a physical paper prescription, meaning patients can have their script filled and medication delivered to their door.

This image-based dispensing process allows people safe and convenient access to their medicines whilst reducing the risk for community pharmacies.

e-scripts are currently optional and available to all Australians, though regulations vary by State.

The arrangement will cease on September 30 in accordance with the COVID-19 National Health Plan telehealth measure.

How does it work?
As outlined in the Department of Health (DoH), GPs:

  1. Create a paper prescription during a telehealth consultation with a physical signature or using a valid digital signature.
  2. Create a clear copy of the entire prescription (a digital image such as a photo or PDF including the barcode where applicable).
  3. Send this prescription via emailfax or text message directly to the patient’s pharmacy of choice.

Schedule 8 and 4(D) medicines such as opioids and fentanyl are not part of the interim arrangement.

Impact on Community Pharmacy

No change was required to your dispensing systems. However, ensuring secure and accessible methods of communication, such as email, text and fax was needed for scripts to be safely and confidentially delivered to you.

Pharmacists are still legally required to store digital scripts for the same duration as paper scripts.


What is the difference?

The Federal Government initiative on an ePrescribing provides for a QR code that is sent to a patient’s device, without requiring a physical paper script. Pharmacists should consider the required technology for this implementation in order to best serve their patients in the future.

The legal prescription is generated, stored and transmitted electronically, usually through the prescription exchange such as Medisecure or eRX. Patients are provided a link to the prescription via a QR known as a token. The form of that QR does not matter; be it via SMS, email, an app or even a piece of paper. It simply provides a link to the legal electronic data of the prescription enabling you to dispense it.

There is no paper prescription produced.

How does it work?

More details will follow but the key points are:

  • It may require changes to how you operate the dispensary;
  • It may require an upgrade of your barcode scanners;
  • You must be connected to Medisecure or eRx;
  • It is being fast tracked by industry and government for implementation in the coming two months;
  • Right now, it is all about the token. Other methods will follow in late 2020.

Corum has been at the forefront of this initiative since the government started fast tracking the program. If you have any questions, we can help you. 

You can read more about ePrescribing on our dedicated ePrescribing page; where we answer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for examples of the dispensing process.