JULY 29, 2020

There have been many changes to the way healthcare is performed over the last several months. Bushfires initially led to changes and then a global pandemic necessitated sometimes daily changes to the way we do things.

Consultations with General Practitioners via telephone or other electronic means became relatively common during the “lockdown” period of Covid 19 and are still available now and into the future under certain conditions. Telehealth prescriptions also became available and continue to be for several more months to minimise social contact but still ensure access to prescription medications. These prescriptions are sent directly from the GP to the pharmacy via email or fax are the precursor to electronic prescribing.

Electronic prescriptions were to commence in Australia even before Covid 19 however this process was fast tracked so that it can begin at the end of the year. Electronic prescribing is being trialled at locations around Australia ahead of roll out across the country.

The way in which electronic prescriptions will work is that when a GP prescribes a medication instead of a person receiving this as a paper prescription they will be sent a token (QR code) to their phone via SMS, as an email or it may be printed onto a piece of paper. The token is scanned at a pharmacy and thus the prescription is dispensed from here. For those people who do not wish to receive their prescription as an electronic prescription paper prescriptions as they are now will still be available.

This will obviously be a very big change to the way prescriptions are issued and dispensed and will require changes to the way pharmacies work and much technology change. It will remain to be seen how quickly electronic prescribing is taken up and utilised.

My Health Record has proven to be an invaluable tool in providing enhanced health care. When people were away from their homes and could not access their prescriptions and medicines due to bushfire Pharmacists and Doctors were able to access the persons My Health Record in order to provide them with their medicines. In a similar way this has proven useful in times of quarantine.

As a Pharmacist I find My Health Record extremely helpful when people are discharged from hospital and they are not sure how their medicines have changed. Being able to access their new medication list is essential and is now a lot easier.

Extreme changes to the way we live and problems we have to deal with have led to the need for major changes to the way healthcare is performed. The availability of these technological changes will mean that no matter what challenge we are faced with people will be able to access healthcare and their prescription medicines in a timely and less stressful fashion.