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E-Prescriptions Making Telehealth Easier in Australia

Sydneysiders facing COVID-19 social distancing requirements are reminded they can ask their GP for an electronic prescription when getting their prescription medicines. NSW residents, like the majority of Australians, can now choose an electronic prescription as an alternative to a paper prescription. To meet the Government’s commitment to delivering electronic prescriptions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation’s healthcare sector has worked together to achieve this digital innovation.

The CEO of the Australian Digital Health Agency said that Sydneysiders facing COVID-19 social distancing requirements are reminded they can ask their GP for an electronic prescription when getting their prescription medicines. More than 12 million electronic prescriptions have already been issued, as healthcare providers and patients see the benefits of going digital.

Electronic prescriptions are providing a safer, faster and more efficient supply of prescriptions to Australians – in person via their doctor or via a telehealth consultation – sent straight to their mobile phone or by email. Options for patients to forward their electronic prescription to their local pharmacy or use consumer medication management apps mean electronic prescriptions are especially convenient under COVID-19 lockdown. Some pharmacies can even home deliver medicines to support patients in staying at home.

More than 22,000 prescribers are now issuing electronic prescriptions to patients and at least 98% of all community pharmacies around the country are dispensing them.

A general practitioner with a practice in inner-city Sydney said the transition to electronic prescriptions is straightforward for GPs. It was noted that most practice management software now has the capability to issue electronic prescriptions. If it is a patient’s choice to receive an electronic prescription instead of a paper prescription, then the GP just needs to select the electronic script option instead of ‘print’ when issuing a prescription.

While there are many benefits of electronic prescriptions, it is not mandatory. Patients and prescribers will continue to be able to choose a paper prescription if that is their preference. Clinical software providers and consumer medication management apps continue to enhance their products to provide future options and further convenience when using electronic prescriptions for medicine supply.

E-prescription market projected to grow

The global ePrescribing market size is projected to reach US$3.3 billion by 2025 from US$1.2 billion in 2020, at a CAGR of 23.3%. Factors such as the increasing adoption of EHR solutions, government initiatives and incentive programs, rising focus on reducing the abuse of controlled substances, increasing focus on reducing medical errors, and the need to curtail the escalating healthcare costs are driving the growth of the e-prescribing market.

Additionally, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of telemedicine modules and telehealth consultations. This is further driving the adoption of e-prescribing solutions.

The COVID-19 pandemic will not directly impact the e-prescribing market; however, its impact on the healthcare IT and the EMR markets will drive the demand for e-prescribing solutions during and after the global pandemic. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of teleconsultations has increased.

The integration of EHR, telemedicine, and e-prescribing functionalities aid prescribers in creating an interconnected network that ensures the use of HCIT to diagnose and prescribe medicines for patients. In addition, recommendations by the CDC to use telemedicine services and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations for the electronic prescription of controlled substances have increased the number of electronic prescription transactions.

The ePresciribng market, by region, is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East & Africa. Currently, several healthcare organizations in the Asia Pacific region are actively moving towards digitization with a focus on streamlining their entire workflow and ensuring patient safety.

Japan, Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, India, and China are the major countries in this region that are actively adopting e-prescribing solutions. In addition, government initiatives for the adoption of EMR solutions, the large volume of COVID-19 patients, the growth of the geriatric population, the rising prevalence of chronic diseases, increasing healthcare expenditure, and the growing purchasing power of consumers are also impacting the growth of this region in the coming years.

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