Is your medical practice using electronic prescriptions? Now is the time to start

A GP entering electronic prescribing details into a computer.
  16 March 2021  NWMPHN Primary Health Care Improvement team   

Over the past year, electronic prescriptions have become the norm for many practices, pharmacies and patients across Australia.

Along with telehealth services, electronic prescribing of medicines has allowed health care providers to provide continuity of care for patients in unprecedented times.

How do electronic prescriptions work?

  1. The doctor will prescribe the medication and ask if the patient prefers a paper or electronic prescription (which can be received by SMS or email).
  2. Through conformant prescribing software, the doctor will create the prescription.
  3. The conformant prescribing software will send the patient the electronic prescription by SMS or email.
  4. The patient is free to choose where they have their medication dispensed (as long as the pharmacy has the tools required to dispense electronic prescriptions).

How can you implement electronic prescriptions in your practice?

  1. Familiarise yourself with the legislation.
  2. Prepare for connection to a Prescription Delivery Service (PDS), namely, MediSecure or ERx Script Exchange.
  3. Connect to a PDS.
  4. Train your practice team.
  5. Communicate your readiness to local pharmacies and patients.
  6. Remain up to date.

More detailed information on how to implement electronic prescriptions is available in our checklist (.pdf) and on the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) website.

Common FAQs

We recently held an electronic prescriptions webinar that is available to watch on demand.  We have summarised the questions from that session below.

Some people are not tech-savvy, or may not own a mobile phone or have an email address. How will electronic prescriptions work for them?

The patient can choose to have a carer or family member help them manage their electronic prescriptions on their behalf. If the patient does not have a mobile phone or email address, and still wishes to manage their prescriptions, they can elect to have their prescription printed.

Should I be sending electronic prescriptions straight to pharmacies?

Unless there is an existing arrangement in place, the electronic prescription should always be sent to the patient.

How much does the SMS cost?

As of February 2021, this cost is covered by the Australian Department of Health, under the COVID-19 National Health Plan till 31 March 2021. After this time, the cost will be minimal and passed onto consumers.

How do repeat prescriptions work?

Repeats are issued the same way original prescriptions are issued. If the patient received a token by SMS, they can choose to receive the repeat through this method as well.

What will it cost to install electronic prescriptions?

There is no extra cost to connect to electronic prescriptions. To connect, you must fulfill the technical requirements – using conformant software, training staff and having a usage policy/guideline.

Many migrants and asylum seekers will not have access to Medicare or a DVA card, how will they use electronic prescriptions?

Individuals without a Medicare or DVA card can apply for an Individual Health Identifier (IHI) through Services Australia.

More information HealthPathways Melbourne logo

More information on electronic prescribing is available on our website, on HealthPathways Melbourne and on the ADHA website.

Contact us

Our Digital Health team is available to assist you with any queries. Please contact us on (03) 9347 1188 or email