Electronic prescribing

Electronic prescribing is now widely available in the community setting. It provides an option for healthcare providers and consumers to use an electronic prescription as an alternative to paper prescriptions. Paper prescriptions are still available.

MediSecure cybersecurity incident

We are working with the National Cyber Security Coordinator regarding the cyber security incident affecting the former national prescription delivery service provider, MediSecure. The current national prescription delivery service, eRx, is not affected by this cyber security incident. Consumers can continue to access medicines safely, and healthcare providers can still prescribe and dispense as usual.

For information relating to the MediSecure cyber security incident, please visit the Home Affairs website.

The 2023-24 Budget announced $111.8 million over four years and $24.2 million ongoing funding to provide electronic prescription delivery infrastructure and related enhancements. This creates certainty for the exchange of nearly 300 million Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) prescriptions each year between prescribers and pharmacists.

The National Prescription Delivery Service (NPDS) commenced on 1 July 2023 with all eligible prescription data held in the NPDS since November 2023. 

To get connected to the NPDS, see our Information for software developers.

Visit the Australian Digital Health Agency for general information, training and podcasts about electronic prescribing.

For questions on policy relating to the NPDS, contact NPDS@health.gov.au

About electronic prescribing

Electronic prescribing allows healthcare providers and consumers to use an electronic prescription as an alternative to paper prescriptions. It forms part of an Australian Government budget measure to make the PBS more efficient.

Electronic prescriptions are part of the broader digital health and medicines safety framework. They enable the prescribing, dispensing and claiming of medicines, without the need for a paper prescription.

Electronic prescribing does not fundamentally change existing prescribing and dispensing processes. Consumers can still choose which pharmacy they attend to fill their prescription.

While paper prescriptions are still available, healthcare providers and consumers can choose an electronic prescription to be issued instead.

Why electronic prescribing is important

Electronic prescribing is important because it:

  • provides greater choice for consumers
  • makes prescribing and dispensing medicines more efficient
  • may reduce prescribing and dispensing errors
  • supports electronic medication charts in hospitals and residential aged care homes
  • removes the need for handling and storing a physical paper prescription
  • supports digital health services such as telehealth services to ensure continuity of care
  • provides an opportunity to protect community members and healthcare providers from exposure to infectious diseases (for example, COVID-19)
  • maintains consumer privacy and integrity of personal information.

Goals of the initiative

Electronic prescribing aims to provide convenience and choice to consumers while improving PBS efficiency, compliance and medication safety.

Meeting our goals

The Australian Government has changed legislation to make electronic prescribing of PBS medicines legal and has implemented it nationally. States and territories have also made changes to their legal frameworks to allow for electronic prescriptions in their jurisdiction.

We are continuing to work with the Australian Digital Health Agency to deliver the technical framework to help clinical software systems create, collect and store electronic prescriptions. This technical framework details the requirements for clinical software to:

  • maintain consumer choice of prescriber and pharmacy for supply of their medicines
  • adhere to privacy and security principles
  • ensure alignment with legislation.

Services Australia has also changed the PBS claim-for-payment system to support the electronic prescribing arrangements.


Electronic prescribing is now widely available in the community setting. Clinical software that can create, collect and store an electronic prescription is increasingly available across Australia.

The Australian Government encourages community pharmacies and prescribers to learn about using electronic prescriptions. This includes getting software ready and participating in training opportunities the Australian Digital Health Agency, peak bodies and software providers are delivering.

See Electronic prescriptions at the Australian Digital Health Agency site.

PBS regulatory framework

The regulatory framework to allow for electronic prescribing under the PBS has several components.

Changes to the National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Regulations 2017 allow the use of an electronic prescription under the PBS.

Four instruments under these regulations support the use of electronic prescriptions, including electronic prescriptions that are medication charts.

The following policies guide electronic prescribing:

For further information regarding the Commonwealth Privacy requirements, see the Electronic Prescribing Privacy Impact Assessment Public Summary.

Further information about the Department of Health’s privacy policy can be found online.

Changes to the National Health (Claims and under co-payment data) Rules 2012 allow PBS claims from electronic prescriptions. The rules state what information approved suppliers must provide about supplying PBS medicines from electronic prescriptions.

Information for prescribers and dispensers

Writing a prescription

A prescriber can write prescriptions for dispensing by pharmacists in the following 2 ways:

  1. Use standard prescription paper forms.  
  2. Write prescriptions electronically – you will need to update your clinical information system to do this. Read about setting up electronic prescribing, or you can contact your software provider directly.  

All prescriptions must follow certain rules. Read more on rules for prescribing PBS medicines and information for pharmacists. You must continue to adhere to the National Health Act 1953 and relevant state or territory regulations when prescribing and supplying medicines.

Benefits of using electronic prescribing

Prescribers can create electronic prescriptions in their software during consultations, where their software is conformant. A unique electronic token (in the form of a QR code) is created and sent to the consumer as an SMS or email. The token is a key that unlocks the electronic prescription, which consumers can provide to the pharmacist to enable dispense and supply of the medicines.

There are many benefits to electronic prescribing, including enabling prescribers and pharmacists to assist consumers in a way that was not previously possible.

For example, prescribers can print evidence of an electronic prescription in the form of a token and fax/email to a pharmacy with consent. As long as the token is legible, pharmacists can scan it and safely dispense the electronic prescription.

As the electronic prescription is linked to the token, it can only be downloaded once. Therefore, the risk of safety and quality and fraudulent activity is greatly reduced.

Another advantage to electronic prescribing is the Active Script List (ASL).

The ASL is a token management system that provides a list of the consumer’s active prescriptions. It has the ability to display all current active eligible barcoded paper and electronic prescriptions any time a prescriber/pharmacist accesses a consumers ASL. Consumers are able to elect which prescriptions are sent to their ASL and which prescribers and pharmacist can view their ASL.

From this list, the pharmacist can dispense electronic prescriptions, including electronic prescriptions that were issued before the ASL was registered where the prescriptions has repeats remaining to be filled. Consumers on multiple medicines are encouraged to talk to their pharmacist about using an ASL.

Find out more about the Active Script List.

State and territory requirements

Australian Capital Territory

In the Australian Capital Territory, the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008 enables electronic prescribing.

Read more about medicines management in the ACT during COVID-19.

New South Wales

In New South Wales, an exemption from the New South Wales Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation enables electronic prescribing. See more information for:

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory the Electronic Transactions (Northern Territory) Act 2000 enables electronic prescribing. Read about medicines and poisons control in the Northern Territory.


In Queensland, the Medicines and Poisons Act 2019 and supporting Medicines and Poisons (Medicines) Regulation 2021 enables systems that meet the conditions specified in the Departmental Standard – Requirements for an electronic prescription management system (Version 1), to electronically prepare, transfer, retrieve and record prescription information (electronic prescription) for a medicine, and to record dispensing activities.

South Australia

In South Australia, the Controlled Substances (Poisons) Regulations 2011 enable electronic prescriptions. Read information for consumers, health professionals and software vendors.


In Tasmania, Regulations 21 and 46 of the Poisons Regulations 2018 enable electronic prescriptions, where approved by the Tasmanian Secretary for Health. The Secretary for Health must approve any software system used in Tasmania to prescribe, transmit, or dispense electronic prescriptions. Read about electronic prescribing in Tasmania.


Read about electronic prescribing in Victoria.

Western Australia

In Western Australia, the Medicines and Poisons Regulations 2016 enable electronic prescribing. The Western Australian Department of Health must approve each product that is part of an electronic prescribing system. Read about electronic prescribing in Western Australia.

Learn more

See Claiming online for PBS medicines for more information on the changes made to the PBS claim-for-payment system.

Read the summary of COVID-19 regulatory changes impacting pharmacy across Australia.


Contact the Department of Health and Aged Care with questions about the legislative framework for electronic prescribing.

Contact the Australian Digital Health Agency with questions about the electronic prescribing technical framework. 

Contact Services Australia with questions about the:

  • PBS or Repatriation Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits (RPBS) claim systems
  • Healthcare identifiers service.

Electronic prescribing contact

Contact us with questions about the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) legislative framework for electronic prescribing.

Services Australia

Information about how to contact Services Australia.

Australian Digital Health Agency

Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) aims to improve health outcomes for Australians through the delivery of national digital health services and systems. They focus on putting data and technology safely to work for patients, consumers and the healthcare professionals who look after them.
Date last updated:

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