eScripts on the horizon
As expected, the roll out of electronic prescriptions in Australia will not be as fast as health minister Greg Hunt was spruiking back in July, but this week we have seen substantive moves towards a national ePrescription system with the federal government gazetting the legality of eScripts alongside paper scripts in federal legislation.
The Australian Digital Health Agency has also published the solution architecture and conformance requirements for prescribing and dispensing software, which it has co-designed with the medical software industry and healthcare provider organisations. It will be another year at least before consumers are using the capability – ADHA told us this week it is targeting June 2022 for a full implementation, as per the national digital health strategy – and there are hopes for a small start early next year in a rural and a metropolitan setting.
Paper scripts will still be used much of the time until everyone gets used to the idea of having their phones scanned at the pharmacy rather than presenting a piece of paper, but we imagine take up by consumers will be similar to the speed with which electronic boarding passes have been embraced. The young folk will be at it first while the oldies still insist on printing one out.
We were chatting to some agency bods this week about it and they mentioned two interesting potential opportunities: the emergence of new players on the market such as prescription exchange vendors and medications adherence app developers is one, but the really interesting thing to consider will be the potential changes at the community pharmacy end.
ADHA chief operating officer Bettina McMahon told us the sector has been waiting for digitisation and is now embracing it with alacrity, and that there had been a massive surge in connections to the My Health Record in the community pharmacy sector since March last year. There are big workflow implications with eScripts but we may even see the physical layout of pharmacies change, with the use of kiosks and pre-ordering prescriptions through apps like MedAdvisor changing the face of pharmacy.
There'll be big implications for aged care facilities as well and perhaps an end to the horrors of owing scripts that can be the bane of a pharmacist's existence. We'll have the full story next week but in the meantime, MedAdvisor announced this week that it had hooked up with a transport company to provide a delivery service for medications in metropolitan areas. There are a couple of other companies out there champing at the bit to get to started with deliveries, which will be massively facilitated by eScripts.
Also this week we had confirmation that GPs can refer their patients to the My Aged Care system through their clinical software. This technology really should be par for the course for referrals in future. We also discovered from ADHA's annual report that the tender issued by SA Health recently for an interoperable secure messaging system is part of a new national out of hospital care collaborative that will see South Australia become the first region in Australia to implement the interoperability standards, with hopes that it will act as a national model for Australia next year.
ADHA was boasting of “significant progress” in the national digital health strategy in the annual report. It's here if you want to take a look. Next year's priorities include the children's digital health collaborative, with NSW Health planning a trial of the digital baby book, along with the promised roadmap for digital health interoperability and work on getting advance care planning documentation to My Health Record for end of life care.
That brings us to our poll question for the week. Do you think ADHA has made significant progress with its strategy this year?
Last week, we asked: Can My Aged Care be salvaged? Confidence isn't that high: 61 per cent said no, while 39 per cent said yes.