Electronic prescribing

What is electronic prescribing?

Electronic prescribing allows for the prescribing and dispensing of medicines without the need for a paper prescription, which can improve efficiency and medicines safety.

Electronic prescribing is an initiative as part of the National Health Plan. It was originally due to be rolled out next year, but its delivery has been progressed to support telehealth consultations and help protect healthcare providers and patients from infectious disease, in this case COVID-19, by removing the need to present to your GP in person to get a prescription.

How does it work?

Instead of a paper prescription, the patient can choose to receive their prescription via an app, SMS or email in the form of a link to a unique QR code or ‘token’.

The token is scanned by the pharmacy to unlock the electronic form of the prescription from an encrypted and secure electronic prescription delivery service. If the patient has a repeat for a prescription, they will receive a new token from the pharmacy that replaces the original token.

By the end of the year, pharmacy will also be able to access and dispense from an ‘active script list’, which provides a list of all the patient’s current prescriptions, including repeats.

When will electronic prescribing be available?

Electronic prescriptions are currently available in test sites called communities of interest and other select locations.  Electronic prescriptions will become available to general practices more broadly later in 2020.

Electronic prescriptions continue to rollout across Australia [updated 26 November 2020]

In addition to the communities of interest, the rollout of electronic prescriptions has been expanded to include:
  • Metropolitan Melbourne
  • Regional Victoria
  • Metropolitan Sydney
  • South Australia
General practices in these areas are encouraged to commence electronic prescribing, taking into consideration the patients preferred choice of how they receive their prescription.

Before commencing with electronic prescribing, it is important to communicate with your local pharmacies to ensure they are ready to dispense electronic prescriptions.

For more information on where electronic prescriptions are available, see the Australian Digital Health Agency website.

Resources for GPs


Australian Digital health Agency

Resources for patients


Australian Digital Health Agency

Introduction to electronic prescribing webinar recording


Dr David Adam – Member, RACGP Expert Committee – Practice Technology and Management.