Real Time Prescription Monitoring (RTPM) – what is the problem?

AUTHOR: David Freemantle – General Manager eHealth, Fred IT Group & MSIA Board Director

The statistics never cease to horrify. Every year over 1,000 Australians die as a result of prescription medication overdoses. In 2016, this included 372 Victorians. This isn’t new information and in fact the statistics keep getting worse. Despite many Coroner’s reports highlighting the problem and the potential for existing technologies to help resolve the problems, progress has been frustratingly slow.

In the 2017 state budget, the Victorian Government allocated nearly $30 million for the development, deployment, education and training of a Real Time Prescription Monitoring solution for Victoria. Known as SafeScript, the solution will connect health care providers who prescribe and dispense monitored drugs to an alerting hub. The hub will, in real time, deliver alerts based on customisable rule sets to the prescriber and pharmacist at the time of prescribing or dispensing the drug and provide the monitored drugs history for that patient.

MSIA member organisations Fred IT Group (with eRx Script Exchange) and MediSecure have been contracted to provide the data to the SafeScript alerting hub which Fred IT Group has also been contracted to build. This is another great example of industry collaboration to deliver solutions that will aide in rectifying the massive social and commercial impacts of prescription drug abuse in our community and over time will involve the input of many of the MSIA members.

The introduction of SafeScript will be supported by legislation mandating the use of the service when a monitored drug is being prescribed and dispensed. As important as the legislation is, the importance of building software and services that integrate seamlessly with existing workflows cannot be underestimated. This integration will help to maximise uptake, drive correct use and results and do so in a time efficient manner. This will be a key considerations and the development and deployment of the SafeScript project.

As an industry we congratulate the Victorian DHHS for undertaking this important initiative and the approach of building on existing successful infrastructure rather than building complete new systems and services from scratch. It is important to continue to endorse and work towards ensuring the availability of a national solution to address cross border issues with Victoria’s SafeScript being a great starting point.

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