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 in later 2021, but its delivery was progressed in 2020 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.

In February 2021, pharmacy will begin testing the Active Script List (ASL). The ASL is a list of all active prescriptions and repeats available to be dispensed. 

Is electronic prescribing available now?

Yes. Initially rolled out in test sites, and then throughout Victoria and New South Wales, electronic prescribing is now available in most parts of Australia,  with the majority of Australians now having the choice of an electronic prescription instead of a paper prescription.

General practices 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. Over 95% of PBS approved community pharmacies are dispensing electronic prescriptions. 

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


SMS subsidy funding extended
Following strong advocacy from the RACGP, an SMS subsidy for sending electronic prescription tokens has been extended from 31 March 2021 to 30 June 2021. This means there is no cost to a practice for sending a prescription token via SMS.  

The RACGP will continue to work with the Federal Department of Health and the Australian Digital health Agency, advocating for an ongoing funding model that supports uptake and provision of electronic prescriptions.

Resources for GPs


Australian Digital Health Agency 

Australia Digital Health Agency webinars

Webinar Date Time Registration
Electronic prescriptions for schedule 8 medicines: for healthcare providers in VIC & TAS Tuesday 2 March 2021     6:30 – 7:30 pm AEDT  Register now
Using electronic prescriptions for health practitioners in SA, NT and WA Tuesday 9 March 2021     7:00 – 8:00 pm AEDT Register now
Electronic prescriptions – Active Script List Overview for Primary care Wednesday 10 March 2021     7:00 – 8:00 pm AEDT Register now
Electronic prescriptions – Active Script List for General Practices: What do we need to know? Tuesday 23 March 2021     6:30 – 7:30 pm AEDT Register now

Resources for patients


Australian Digital Health Agency

Introduction to electronic prescribing webinar recording


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