NT e-health system cleans up doctor's handwriting

Pharmacists download electronic prescriptions

The Northern Territory government has launched a new electronic prescription service that aims to reduce discrepancies caused by doctor's handwriting and improve patient care.

The million-dollar Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (ETP) project is a product of two year's development and will provide health care agencies, including hospitals, general practitioners and aged care facilities with faster and less error prone pharmaceutical service.

Top End Division of General Practice E-health program manager, Matt Antcliff, said the project builds on the shift to e-health to minimise paper use and improve accuracy.

"Doctor's have been able to create electronic prescriptions, but they still needed to print it out and sign it," Antcliff said.

"[ETP] means the prescription can be electronically signed and sent off to be retrieved by a pharmacy from our servers, eliminating error.

"There are a lot of people admitted to hospital caused by errors in prescriptions where the wrong drug or dosage is handed out."

Prescriptions are filled out on electronic forms, encrypted, and sent to servers owned by Northern Territory Health. Pharmacies can then download the prescription and allocate medicines without having to decipher handwritten documents.

Antcliff said the encryption used reduces the risk of prescriptions being stolen.

"It is far more secure than the old method. All you basically needed to do before was steal a doctor's pad," he said.

Doctors visiting aged care facilities can use the technology to fill out prescriptions from mobile devices and send them off for collection.

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