Rushing in electronic prescriptions could cause chaos

Part of the Government’s COVID-19 National Health Plan is to fast-track the electronic prescriptions (FTEP).

However, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia is emphasising that the planned fast-tracking of electronic prescriptions will cause unnecessary chaos and be a backward step for patient care at exactly the wrong time.

The Pharmacy Guild says that on behalf of community pharmacists working in thousands of pharmacies across Australia, they cannot support the introduction of a measure that will impose further significant disruption, at a time when community pharmacies are already under intense pressures.

The untested system, under which prescriptions would be conveyed by ‘tokens’ sent to patients by text or email, presents unnecessary risks to patient care and will impose unwarranted disruption to the administrative and clinical workflow of both prescribers and community pharmacies already having to adjust to new arrangements in support of the COVID-19 National Health Plan.

The high number of prescriptions being dispensed through these telehealth measures, demonstrates that patients are continuing to have ready access to their medicines without the need, at this time, for a token-based electronic prescription.

This process would severely test pharmacy systems and cause confusion and potential medication misadventure for many patients, particularly the elderly and chronically ill.

The Guild say that while they will continue to be a strong supporter and contributor to the national electronic prescriptions project, it recommends the FTEP (Token) be removed from the COVID-19 National Health Plan, in favour of the ASL model, and that maintaining patient access to medicines during COVID-19, is achievable by the appropriate resourcing and funding of the current COVID-19 measures.