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GPs flock to NZePS

Tuesday, 2 June 2020  
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Picture: Pharmacists Brooke McKay and Hamish Tildesley editor Rebecca McBeth


More GPs have started using the NZ Electronic Prescription Service since the arrival of Covid-19, as signed up for the service since it first became available in 2013.


Ministry of Health figures show that 700 practices are now using the online service, compared with 293 in December 2019 and just 137 in December 2018.


Around 300 GPs signed up in April alone, meaning 70 percent of practices in New Zealand are now sending prescriptions electronically to pharmacies and 97 percent of pharmacies are using NZePS and able to receive them.


In April 2020, more than a third of all prescriptions were sent via the electronic service, a significant jump from just 12 percent in March last year.


A number of other prescribing organisations and facilities have also been added to NZePS, including NZ Family Planning, school nurses and outpatient services across Auckland and Waitemata DHBs.


NZePS first became available to GPs using the myPractice PMS in 2013 and became more widely available to other PMS users in 2016.


Brooke McKay, owner of Queen Street pharmacy in Upper Hutt, has been a pilot site for the service working with the Ministry of Health for over a year.


She estimates the pharmacy was getting around 10 percent of prescriptions electronically pre-Covid and this has now risen to around 80 percent. Of those 80 percent, more than two thirds are barcoded using NZePS.


Greater use of NZePS by GPs has allowed her to start phasing out use of the fax machine.


“Covid-19 has been a great push for ePrescribing,” McKay says.


“We have found (NZePS) really helpful from the get-go, especially for an afterhours pharmacy like ours.”


The process is not yet completely paperless as while the prescription is transferred electronically, the scripts still have to be printed off at her end for annotation and keeping health records.


There has also been some confusion around getting the original paper copies for controlled drugs, she tells


McKay’s pharmacy has coped well with the increased use of NZePS, but she believes it would have been more difficult for pharmacies who were not regularly using it before the pandemic hit.


“The huge volume (of electronic prescriptions) completely destroyed any hope anyone had of understanding the system before implementing it, so it could’ve been a smoother transition for some,” she explains.


“I think this is going to stay in place and I hope it does, because it’s a good thing.”


Canterbury DHB has expanded its Electronic Request Management Service (ERMS) to allow prescriptions to be sent electronically to pharmacists from both GPs and secondary care services in the region. Read more about it in Features.


If you would like to provide feedback on this news story, please contact the editor Rebecca McBeth.


Read more news:

GPs drive huge increase in ePrescribing

e-Prescription service takes step towards paperless future

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