What is the RTPM system?

The RTPM provides information to doctors (prescribers) and pharmacists (dispensers) about a patient’s history and use of controlled medicines when they are considering prescribing or dispensing these medicines.

The Commonwealth, state and territory agencies are working together to implement the RTPM system. However, each state or territory remains responsible for the management of controlled medicines in its jurisdiction.

Why is the RTPM system important?

The misuse of controlled medicines is a growing concern within Australia, with levels of overdose and accidental deaths rising.

Controlled medicines include pain medications such as oxycodone, morphine and fentanyl and other high-risk medicines (determined within each State or Territory), including all benzodiazepines such as diazepam.

Technology developments can help reduce misuse of medicines listed as controlled substances, while ensuring that patients who genuinely need these medicines are able to access them.

What are the goals of the RTPM system?

The RTPM’s goals are to:

  • identify patients who are at risk of harm due to dependence or misuse of controlled medicines
  • identify patients who may be diverting these medicines
  • limit ‘prescription shopping’ — visiting several doctors for the same prescriptions of a controlled medicine
  • provide state and territory regulators with data to detect prescribers who are not complying with regulations. 

How will we meet these goals?

The RTPM system captures information on prescribing and dispensing events related to controlled medicines:

  • consistent with state and territory legislation
  • from regulatory systems
  • from prescribing and dispensing software
  • from a range of external data sources. 

The RTPM system produces real-time alerts and information for health professionals and state and territory regulators.

Prescribers and dispensers receive notifications and alerts when they prescribe or dispense controlled medicines. Individual state and territory legislation sets the criteria for controlled medicines for each jurisdiction.

The RTPM system consists of two components:

  1. A National Data Exchange (NDE), which captures information from state and territory regulatory systems, prescribing and dispensing software, and a range of external data sources. 
  2. Regulatory systems within each state or territory, which manage the authorities or permits for controlled medicines in each state and territory. 

The NDE was developed and released in December 2018. Work with states and territories is continuing to integrate the NDE into their regulatory systems. 

Protection of personal information

The NDE component of the RTPM system will contain personal information of a patient relating to the prescribing and dispensing of controlled medicines to that patient (such as the particular drug(s) prescribed, the date and amount prescribed, and information about the dispensing of that drug). It will also contain some information about prescribers and dispensers of controlled medicines.

The NDE will collect and use the information, including personal information, from prescribing and dispensing software, state and territory systems used by regulators, and a range of other external data sources, to produce real-time detection and alerting for regulators, prescribers and dispensers. The Commonwealth will not have access to the personal information in the NDE.

Each state and territory has introduced, or is working to introduce, legislation to provide for a monitored medicines database to support the implementation of the NDE, which will authorise the national collection, use and disclosure of personal information for the NDE.

The personal information in the NDE will be securely stored (using a range of technical features) and will be accessible by prescribers, dispensers and state and territory regulators. Personal information of a patient in the NDE may be disclosed:

  • to prescribers and dispensers in the state or territory where the patient resides
  • to prescribers and dispensers in another state or territory in certain circumstances (such as where the patient requires a controlled medicine while out of their state or territory of residence)
  • to the relevant state or territory regulator
  • when it is required or authorised by law.

For more information on the operation of the RTPM system, including how personal information is handled and protected in a particular state or territory, please refer to:

For state-specific information, contact:

For further information regarding the Commonwealth Privacy requirements, see the RTPM NDE - Privacy Impact Assessment Public Summary

Who works with us on the RTPM system?

Health Ministers from the Commonwealth, states and territories have agreed to national real time prescription monitoring and are developing developing and adapting their systems to achieve a national solution.

Work is continuing achieve this goal with the expectation that all states and territories will be integrated into the NDE by mid-2021.

States and territories are responsible for developing the regulatory components that integrate with the NDE based on their specific regulatory environments. As such, they maintain responsibility for the regulation of controlled medicines (Schedule 8) within their jurisdiction, and have discretion as to which additional (Schedule 4) medicines they wish to monitor using the RTPM system.

Contact

For more information, please contact us.

National Real Time Prescription Monitoring (RTPM) contact

Contact us for more information about National Real Time Prescription Monitoring (RTPM). This computer system aims to reduce misuse of controlled medicines in Australia.

Program officer
RTPMImplementation [at] health.gov.au

View contact

Last updated: 
7 January 2021