Auckland firm injects life into Aussie e-script programme

Auckland firm injects life into Aussie e-script programme

eRX Script Exchange sends prescriptions electronically through secure gateway for retrieval from a patient’s pharmacy.

An Australian e-script project, eRx Script Exchange, which Auckland company Simpl began in September last year, has been rolled out in the states of Victoria and New South Wales. The platform enables GPs and medical specialists to send prescriptions electronically through a secure gateway, for retrieval from a patient’s pharmacy.

Pharmacy IT service provider Fred Health selected Simpl to build the platform.

Simpl was aware of eRx through Microsoft, as the two companies are Microsoft partners.

ERx Script Exchange chairman Graham Cunningham says early indicators from Australia are that the platform will be more efficient for health professionals and pharmacists.

“It’s a time-saving exercise and avoiding the time of [pharmacists] retyping the prescription. Previously there were a lot of errors in transposing [scripts]. There is also a reasonably high rate of the wrong prescriptions being handed out, so hopefully this system will reduce that to zero.”

As well, the platform will aid health professionals by notifying them that patients have picked up the medication they prescribed.

Cunningham says Simpl has done a great job with the platform.

“They have a very strong presence as software developers in the health area. In Australia we have about 220 million scripts written each year, so we hope this [software] will become commonplace.”

Once the system has been assessed in Victoria and New South Wales, the goal is to take eRx Script Exchange nationwide, he says.

“We want to progressively make sure that we get people signed on in different states. The geographic location is not the issue, it’s really the interface of the IT software supplied by [medical software provider] Best Practice.”

Cunningham is also expecting it to help stop what is known in Australia as `doctor shopping’.

“People who have an addiction will have a variety of scripts written by different doctors. With this system it has the potential to track how many times a particular drug has been dispensed to a person. That’s tricky because we have huge privacy issues in Australia, as does New Zealand, and one thing we’ve grappled with is identification numbers for people.”

“They know their stuff and they chose us because this is what we do,” says Simpl CEO Bennett Medary.

He says the project took a quite brief amount of time to complete, as the company was not starting from scratch.

“We’re using the health connection engine that many folk in health know we have, which is really a platform for developing integration and connectivity using the secure health standards. We’ve gone from commissioning the project to [going] live with pilot sites, when we’re talking about a secure national script exchange system.”

Medary could not yet say if a similar system would be developed for New Zealand.

“There is certainly an objective within the New Zealand health sector to facilitate electronic transactions. This could be referrals, but there’s no specific agenda to put in eRx and replicate exactly what we have done in Australia.”

He adds it is “not a secret” that the platform cost less than NZ$10 million in total to supply to the Australian marketplace.

Dr Tim Denton, a doctor at a rural practice in Victoria, and one of the first GPs to use eRx Script Exchange, sees significant value in the development of electronic prescribing.

“With electronic prescribing some of the more vexed areas of patient care are greatly strengthened, namely that of prescription management. This will provide a simple and effective solution for such issues as patients losing scripts, ‘doctor shopping’ or being informed when prescriptions are altered after inpatient or outpatient reviews.”

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