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A pharmacy employee scans an electronic prescription from the phone of an elderly male customer

Electronic prescribing

For dispensers

Over 100 million electronic prescriptions have been issued since May 2020, by more than 50,000 prescribers - GPs and nurse practitioners. 

- December 2022

Getting started

  • Ensure your pharmacy has a Healthcare Provider Identifier-Organisation (HPI-O) and is connected to the Health Identifiers Service. This is a core requirement for electronic prescribing. If you haven’t registered, get more information about registering here
  • Ensure your pharmacy is connected to an open prescription delivery service via a prescription exchange service. Existing prescription exchange services include eRx and MediSecure.
Patient information
  • Update your patient's contact details on file (mobile phone number/email).
System settings
  • Participation in electronic prescribing requires a conformant clinical information system that is capable of authoring an electronic prescription. Contact your software provider for further information or view our electronic prescribing conformance register.
  • Subscribe to your software provider newsletters and correspondence.
  • Stay up to date with communication from clinical peak organisations.
Stay informed
  • Check to ensure you know any legal rules that are specific to your state or territory such as the management of controlled medicines.
  • Keep your staff informed about electronic prescribing and how they may respond to patient’s questions about electronic prescriptions.
Online training

CPD accredited free online training for dispensers providing an introduction to what an electronic prescription is, how it is prescribed and dispensed, the benefit of Active Script List (ASL) and the policy requirements and legislation that underpin the process.

Important reminder: You are still required to adhere to the National Health Act and relevant state or territory regulations when supplying medicines using an electronic prescription. 


What is electronic prescribing?

Electronic prescribing is providing Australians with convenient access to their medicines. It will improve patient safety by reducing the risk of transcription errors.

Electronic prescriptions aren't mandatory and patients will have a choice to receive either an electronic or a paper prescription from their prescriber (but not both). Electronic prescriptions will continue to support a patient’s right to choose their prescriber and pharmacy to supply their medicines.

Both electronic and paper prescriptions will need to comply with the relevant Commonwealth and state and territory legislation requirements.

To dispense electronic prescriptions, you will need the capability built into your clinical information system.

Electronic prescriptions are available nationally as a ‘token’ or an Active Script List.

What are the benefits?

Benefits of electronic prescribing extend to the patient, healthcare provider and, more broadly, at a system level. These include:

  • reducing the administrative burden for healthcare providers and organisations (such as more effective management of prescription refill requests)
  • reducing prescription and transcription errors due to improved legibility of prescriptions
  • providing an opportunity to protect community members and healthcare providers from exposure to infectious diseases (such as COVID-19) and ensure continuity of care
  • maintaining patient privacy and integrity of personal information.

The patient will always have the choice to get their next repeat dispensed at a different pharmacy. All they’ll need to do is present the repeat token when more medicine is needed.

Listen to the latest podcast

Hear from digital health experts and leading health professionals currently using electronic prescribing and find out how to get your pharmacy ready.

Listen to more podcasts

How it works


  1. A patient attends the doctor and requires a prescription.
  2. If the patient chooses, an electronic prescription is provided.
  3. The patient receives an SMS or email message with a token from their doctor which they provide to their preferred pharmacy.
  4. The pharmacy scans the token to view the electronic prescription and supply the medicine.
  5. If the prescription has repeats, then a new token is provided to the patient via SMS or email by the pharmacy.

Active Script List (ASL)

A patient may want their electronic prescriptions in a consolidated list so that they can be more easily managed.

  1. A patient attends their preferred pharmacy prior to attending the doctor and​​​​​​ requests to be registered for an ASL. The patient needs to accept the terms and conditions, agreeing that all prescriptions will go to their ASL unless they withdraw their consent.
  2. The patient attends the doctor and requires a prescription.
  3. If the patient chooses, an electronic prescription is provided and is automatically added to the ASL unless they ask the doctor not to. The patient does not need a token but can receive one if they want.
  4. The patient then presents to their preferred pharmacy, validates their identity and receives their medicine.
  5. If there are repeats, they will be added to the ASL depending on the patient’s choice.

Check with your software provider to ensure your software is up to date.

A token SMS or email will have the patient's name, a barcode and some information about the medicine. No instructions will be included.

State and territory regulations

The same regulations for prescribing and supplying medicines exist for both paper and electronic prescriptions. Clinicians are required to adhere to the National Health Act and relevant state or territory regulations when prescribing and supplying medicines using an electronic prescription. This is particularly important for controlled medicines. Please contact your relevant jurisdiction for more information.

Safeguards are in place to prevent patients using their token at multiple pharmacies.

The token itself is not the prescription; however, it is evidence of a prescription. Once the token is scanned and used by a pharmacy to dispense the medicine, it is invalid and cannot be reused. The prescription delivery service will lock a prescription as soon as it is accessed, so no other pharmacy can dispense it at the same time.