Patients who need a prescription or repeat prescription will be able to contact their doctor for a telehealth consultation, the doctor will send an e- prescription to an electronic registry so it can be downloaded by their pharmacy.
The pharmacist will fill the prescription and if the pharmacy home delivers the person will not need to leave their home to get their medicine.
Australian Medical Association spokesman Dr Chris Moy said it was unclear whether the new system could be delivered within the eight week time frame set by the federal government.
“It’s been the obvious thing to do … theoretically we can do it if we can get all the ducks lined up,” he said.
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The new system will allow people with coronavirus, who are in self-isolation, access to their medicines and reduce the spread of the virus in general practice waiting rooms and at community pharmacies.
The Department of Health said older people and those with a chronic condition, who are at greater risk from coronavirus, would benefit if they did not have to expose themselves to the virus by visiting their GP’s waiting room for a script.
The electronic prescriptions are designed to work with new Medicare rebates for telehealth consultations with doctors that begin Friday.
However, Dr Moy said these rebates were restricted to those with coronavirus in home isolation, those aged over 70, those with a chronic illness and pregnant women.
The Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of GPS want telehealth to be available to all patients.
Chemist Warehouse chief Mario Tascone said his business could manage anything but nothing had yet been put in place for electronic prescriptions.
A spokesman for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said very close to all pharmacies have capacity to read barcodes on paper scripts, but no pharmacies are yet enabled for the downloading of paperless scripts.
“It is a matter of how quickly the dispensary software vendors can rollout that capability to pharmacy dispensary systems,” he said.
“Many pharmacies do home deliveries, but we don’t know how many. The number will grow with a formalised and funded system for deliveries as announced by the Government. We are working with the Government to develop options and guidelines for such a service,” he said.