What’s the hardest part of getting a script filled from your chemist? Remembering to take the piece of paper with you when you leave home. Well, with the rollout of e-scripts into Australia, we will soon be saying “bye-bye” to the pieces of paper, and instead will instead have the option of going digital with an e-script sent to our smartphones.
The process for getting an e-script begins in exactly the same way as when you get a paper script from your prescriber. But, at your appointment, instead of printing out a script, your prescriber will use their software to generate an e-script which will sit in a central repository. You will simultaneously be sent a link to the script as an SMS to your phone. You then click the link, which takes you to a QR code which you show to the chemist who will scan it, download the script with their software, and then issue your medication. Repeats are held in the repository until you are ready for your refill. The change to legislation to allow electronic prescriptions will make the prescribing process more efficient, as well as reducing prescribing and dispensing errors.
Eugene Chang, Pharmacist Manager at Star Discount Chemist, Collinswood, says the roll out of the e-scripts will ultimately benefit patients/customers and increase efficiency within the pharmacy and at the doctor's surgery.
“Sometimes the handwriting on a written script can be hard to decipher,” Eugene says. “It is our duty as pharmacists to ensure the medication is prescribed intentionally and we are dispensing accurately before supplying it to the customer. This may require us to contact the prescriber, which can take some time, and ultimately the customer is the one who suffers.”
Telehealth appointments are becoming more popular, in part due to COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing. e-scripts are the next natural progression. If you need a script following your telehealth appointment, you no longer need to visit the GP practice to pick it up (negating the main advantage of using telehealth). You also do not need to have the script faxed to the chemist, where it might be misplaced, or not be there when you arrive.
“e-scripts help to put the patient back in control,” Eugene says. “The patient holds their own information in the form of the link to their e-script.”
Eugene also says that some chemists are able to integrate e-scripts into their own health apps, meaning you’ll be able access the script through their app, and will be able to use the app to order your repeat medication to be ready when you get to the store.
“The apps can also set reminders for when medication might be running low and a refill is required,” Eugene says.
e-scripts became available to the Australian public in May of 2020. Many doctors, and the larger pharmacies are using the technology, but some smaller practices are yet to come on board.
“We are seeing approximately one e-script per week,” Eugene says. “So, although it is not common as yet, we are really seeing the benefits of people not having to keep track of the piece of paper, and for us being able to decipher the script easily.”
Patients will still have the option of paper prescriptions if they do not have a phone or struggle with phone technology. Next time you need a prescription, talk to your doctor about the possibility of using an e-script and whether it suits your situation. It could save you time and hassle.