Australian Digital Health Agency

Electronic prescriptions

Electronic prescriptions are an option for prescribers and their patients as an alternative to a paper prescription. The provision of electronic prescriptions can reduce administrative burden, simplify workflows, and minimise the need for face-to-face prescription refills.

Click the topics below to learn more about ‘why’ and ‘how’ to use electronic prescriptions and access professional development.

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Why use electronic prescriptions?

Electronic prescriptions can provide attractive benefits to patients, specialists, and practice managers. Benefits stem from improved safety, convenience, and practice efficiencies.

Use the arrows below to click through and learn more about the benefits of electronic prescriptions.


Specialist icon

Specialists can benefit from electronic prescriptions through:

  • Improved patient outcomes by reduced risk of medicine errors,
  • Improved efficiencies in workflow through less paperwork,

  • Reduced patient misuse of prescriptions,
  • Reduced duplication in prescriptions, and
  • Improved patient medicine compliance.

    Practice Managers 

    and Staff

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    Practice Managers and Staff can benefit from electronic prescriptions through:

    • Simplified workflows due to reduced paperwork,
    • More support with moving towards a paperless practice, and
    • Reduce administrative burden through more efficient management of prescription refill requests.


      Patients icon

      Patients can benefit from electronic presriptions through:

      • Improved safety by reducing the risk of transcription errors,
      • More autonomy through choosing their preferred prescription format,
      • Reduced risk of adverse drug interactions,
      • Reduced risk of losing prescriptions, particularly for those with multiple scripts, and
      • Reduced complexity in medicine management for multiple scripts.

      How to use electronic prescriptions?

      Electronic prescriptions have been designed to minimise the amount of change required from healthcare providers when introducing electronic prescriptions to their existing workflow for paper prescriptions. The following section focuses on the Token Model of electronic prescriptions and will highlight how electronic prescriptions work, how to set up electronic prescription capability, and how to issue electronic prescriptions in your practice.

      Click the topics below to learn more.

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      Electronic prescriptions enable healthcare providers to issue an electronic prescription, both face-to-face and remotely. The infographic below outlines how electronic prescriptions can work in your practice.

      Patient consultation

      • Supports telehealth consultations, where appropriate, so patients do not need to attend in-person for the sole purpose of a prescription

      Specialist prescribes medicine / asks patient if they prefer paper or electronic prescription

      • Enables specialists to organise repeat prescriptions without patients attending practice (where appropriate). 
      • Provides patients with choice (paper or electronic) supporting patient satisfaction.

      Specialist uses conformant prescribing software

      • Provides opportunity for workflow efficiencies by reducing unnecessary paperwork.
      • Less prescription duplications. 
      • Reduced risk of transcription errors.
      • Decreased work needed to create a prescription.
      • Supports specialists and practices in going paperless.

      Prescribing software sends patient the electronic prescription via SMS or email

      • Fewer lost prescriptions and medicine abuse/ misuse through better management of medicines.
      • Improved medicine compliance by reducing lost prescriptions and providing visibility of unfilled prescriptions.
      • Patient privacy is protected by encrypted transmission of medicines information.

      Patient collects medicine from the local pharmacy

      • Upon receiving SMS or email, patient can take or send it to their preferred pharmacy for the medicine to be dispensed.
      • Flexibility and choice when and where to fill prescriptions.
      • Avoiding loss of paper prescriptions.

        Electronic prescriptions infographic
        Electronic Prescriptions infographic
        Access electronic prescriptions fact sheet

        This fact sheet provides a high level overview of electronic prescriptions and its benefits. You can share this with others who might be interested in learning more.

        Access electronic prescriptions FAQ sheet

        Please see the following FAQ sheet to answer any questions or queries that you may have regarding electronic prescriptions.

        Introducing electronic prescriptions in your practice may involve preparing for technical changes, connecting to a Prescription Delivery Service, training staff, and communicating to others that you now have the capability to issue electronic prescriptions. Consider the steps below and the supplementary Implementation Guide to make this introduction a reality.


        Click each of the steps below to learn more.

        Access electronic prescriptions implementation guide

        This implementation guide includes step-by-step guidance to help your practice implement electronic prescriptions.

        The first step of implementing electronic prescriptions is to prepare for connection to a Prescription Delivery Service. This involves familiarising yourself with relevant Commonwealth and State legislation, checking with your software provider that your clinical software is conformant for electronic prescribing, ensuring you have a Healthcare Provider Identifier – Organisation, and requesting/linking your National Authentication Service for Health and/or Medicare PKI Certificate through Health Professional Online Services.

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        Connecting to a Prescription Delivery Service requires contacting your clinical software provider to install any necessary upgrades and activating your electronic prescribing functionality. Communication with local pharmacies 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).

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        Training for electronic prescriptions should be provided. The present Electronic Prescriptions Module should be distributed to staff that are using the Prescription Delivery Service, as well as the Agency’s three-module Electronic Prescriptions for Prescribers eLearning course. In addition to training, staff should also be informed about electronic prescription information that is relevant to their role, and how they may respond to patient’s questions about electronic prescriptions.

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        Once your organisation is ready to offer electronic prescriptions, communicate this change and keep in touch with your local pharmacies. The Agency has a communication toolkit (which can be accessed via the Electronic Prescriptions Implementation Guide) that can help you let patients, local pharmacies and the broader health community know that you have electronic prescriptions capability. Additionally, it will be important to stay up to date with the latest information on electronic prescriptions, as rapid uptake of this form of prescribing will likely trigger further changes and improvements.

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        The workflow changes of issuing an electronic prescription, compared to a paper prescription, are relatively small. For a specialist, the key changes will include selecting different prompts when using the clinical information system to issue a prescription. Key concepts that should be understood when issuing an electronic prescription include the different methods, the process, and how to support patients.

        Click on each of the concepts below to learn more.

        Access electronic prescriptions user guide

        This user guide includes step-by-step guidance to help you provide effective electronic prescriptions.

        The Active Script List will become available via community pharmacy from February 2021 in initial test sites, and then increasingly available from March/April 2021 as more software products introduce the functionality. Electronic prescription tokens are unique QR codes sent via SMS or email to the patient once the prescriber generates the prescription. The patient can present this token at their chosen pharmacy. The ASL is a list which displays a patient’s active prescriptions available to be dispensed. Upon the patient or their agent/carer confirming their identity, the pharmacy can dispense the electronic prescription.

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        Connecting to a Prescription Delivery Service requires contacting your clinical software provider to install any necessary upgrades and activating your electronic prescribing functionality. Communication with local pharmacies 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).

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        See Electronic Prescriptions User Guide or Electronic Prescriptions FAQ. See also the Australian Digital Health Agency’s communication toolkit which contains email, social media, website and print materials that can be used to communicate information to patients.

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        Need support?

        For support with digital health, please contact the Digital Health Help Centre, request training or 

        contact your local Primary Health Network (PHN).

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