Prescription exchanges achieve interoperability

The two electronic prescription exchange services, eRx Script Exchange and MediSecure Script Vault, have achieved interoperability, meaning electronic prescriptions generated by one system can be read and dispensed by the other.

The developers of the two exchanges announced last year that they were working towards interoperability, and have been provided funding to the tune of $10m under the $15.4 billion Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement (5CPA), including $660,000 each for technical work and $8.3 million in transaction fees.

eRx's general manager, David Freemantle, and MediSecure's CEO Phillip Shepherd, said technical interoperability had been achieved in December, with the ability to be able to scan eScripts from both exchanges rolled out through pharmacy dispense systems in January.

Mr Freemantle said all pharmacies using market leader Fred Dispense, which is owned by eRx's parent company Fred IT, can now scan MediSecure eScripts as well as eRx, the capability having been automatically included in Fred Dispense's January update.

“Fred pharmacies were automatically enabled, so now they can all begin to scan MediSecure barcodes,” Mr Freemantle said.

Both prescription exchanges saw a huge volume of enquiries in January as the deadline for the eHealth Practice Incentives Program (ePIP) neared. One of the requirements of the ePIP is that the majority of prescriptions are sent electronically to a prescription exchange service.

“In 2012 we averaged about 70 practices signing on per month, but in January we had 343,” Mr Shepherd said. “We have also seen an increase of about 45 per cent in original prescription numbers.”

Mr Freemantle said eRx had also been overwhelmed in January, and both expect the use of electronic prescribing systems and the volumes of eScripts lodged in the exchanges to continue growing rapidly.

Mr Freemantle also said that eRx was now integrated with 28 different software vendors, with Genie the latest. Genie has received formal notice of successful integration with eRx and will release the functionality with Genie v8.5.2, due at the end of February.

At present the functionality is only available for Windows users, with Mac integration still being worked on.

DispenseIT, a relatively new player in the pharmacy dispensing software market, is also interoperable. The software has been developed by Queensland company CPIAM using Microsoft .Net and SQLServer technology.

DispenseIT is used at Brand's Think Pharmacy in Orange in NSW, part of the Wesley Pharmacy Group, and commenced ePrescription operations with MediSecure recently.

The Wesley group includes 12 community and hospital pharmacies across the eastern seaboard and operates hospital pharmacies in the Wesley hospital group in south-east Queensland.

Wesley Pharmacy Group CEO David Brand said he thought the most successful community pharmacies over the next five years will be early adopters of ePrescriptions.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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