Script exchanges get the interoperable go-ahead

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has granted interim authorisation to a contract between eRx Script Exchange and MediSecure Script Vault allowing the two prescription exchanges to work towards interoperability.

eRx applied to the ACCC last month for authorisation to proceed with the agreement, which has the backing of the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA). There were some concerns that an agreement between the two exchanges could be considered anti-competitive in that it includes an agreement on setting prices.

In a statement, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the authorisation provides immunity from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

DoHA submitted an argument to back the contract, saying its benefit to the public would outweigh any public detriment, which the ACCC has now accepted on an interim basis.

Interim authorisation will allow the two parties to begin work on interoperability prior to the ACCC's final decision.

“Allowing the parties to implement the agreement under an interim authorisation is likely to increase the use of electronic prescriptions,” Mr Sims said. “This will result in cost savings and a reduction in prescription transcription errors.”

Under the contract, eRx and MediSecure have agreed to work towards interim interoperability by December 24. They will receive $660,000 each in funding from the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement for the technical work required and will also share in more than $8.3 million in transaction fees.

General practices that use one or both of the exchanges will qualify for the fourth requirement of the new eHealth Practice Incentives Program (ePIP) to have electronic transfer of prescriptions (ETP) capability.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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