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Media releases • Electronic prescriptions

Electronic prescriptions rolling out to support Melbourne

Published 17 August 2020

Joint communique: To support those people most at risk from COVID-19, the rollout of electronic prescriptions across Greater Melbourne will be expanded beyond the current communities of interest.

This follows successful testing since May 2020. Electronic prescribing is being implemented in General Practices and Community Pharmacies across Australia. To date, this has occurred through a managed approach of testing and continuous improvement across a growing number of ‘communities of interest’.

Given the current COVID-19 crisis in Melbourne the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia are working together with the Australian Department of Health and the Australian Digital Health Agency to support doctors and pharmacists in the Greater Melbourne area to access this new technology faster. This will support a safer and more convenient supply of medicines for patients.

Previous communications have stated electronic prescriptions should only be written or dispensed as part of the communities of interest trials. This is now being expanded to the Greater Melbourne area. If you have made the preparations outlined below, you can and should commence electronic prescribing in Greater Melbourne, starting with the patient’s preferred choice of how they receive their prescriptions and medicines.

With an immediate focus on general practices and community pharmacies in greater metropolitan Melbourne to substantially increase electronic prescription capability over the coming weeks we all need to work together. The following steps will help your pharmacy or general practice get ready.

General practice and pharmacy readiness.

Step 1: Software activation - contact your software supplier and ask them to activate your electronic prescribing functionality.
Step 2: Communication between local pharmacies and general practices is critical - this will ensure everyone is ready to write and dispense an electronic prescription (noting some pharmacies may require more time and resources to get their dispensing workflow ready).Patients may experience a delay in accessing their medicines including having to return to general practice for a paper prescription if this step is not undertaken.
Step 3: Stay informed - attend webinars and education sessions run by the Australian Digital Health Agency, the Pharmacy Guild and the RACGP to learn more about electronic prescribing and how it works.

Practices and pharmacies in other areas of Australia are being advised to prepare for a broader rollout by getting software ready and participating in training opportunities being provided by the Agency, peak bodies and software providers.

Schedule 8 and 4D medicines
All medicines, including Schedule 8 and 4D medicines, can be prescribed and dispensed through an electronic prescription providing patients with a safe and secure way of obtaining medicines remotely. Unlike a request for a Schedule 8 or 4D medicine using a digital image prescription via fax or email, the prescriber is not required to send an original hard copy of the prescription to the pharmacy - the electronic (paperless) prescription is the legal order to prescribe and supply.

Patient Choice
It’s important to remember that electronic prescriptions are an alternative to paper. If a patient’s preferred local pharmacy is not ready for electronic prescriptions, patients can still choose to get a paper prescription from their doctor.

For more information about electronic prescribing and electronic prescriptions, see:

Media contact

Australian Digital Health Agency Media Team
Mobile: 0428 772 421
Email: [email protected]

About the Australian Digital Health Agency

The Agency is tasked with improving health outcomes for all Australians through the delivery of digital healthcare systems, and implementing Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy – Safe, Seamless, and Secure: evolving health and care to meet the needs of modern Australia in collaboration with partners across the community. The Agency is the System Operator of My Health Record, and provides leadership, coordination, and delivery of a collaborative and innovative approach to utilising technology to support and enhance a clinically safe and connected national health system. These improvements will give individuals more control of their health and their health information, and support healthcare providers to deliver informed healthcare through access to current clinical and treatment information. Further information:

Media release - Electronic prescriptions rolling out to support Melbourne (PDF, 659.96 KB)

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