Pharmacy deal just the pill for Simpl

Gateway to link pharmacies and doctors

Auckland-based Simpl is building a national gateway through which Australian pharmacies and doctors will exchange prescriptions electronically.

Pharmacy IT service provider Fred Health selected Simpl to build the gateway, which aims to improve patient care, says Fred Health’s chief executive, Paul Naismith.

The project, called eRx Script Exchange (eRx), is a secure e-prescribing health connection system, enabling prescriptions to be sent from doctors to eRx, and later retrieved by the patient’s pharmacy of choice, says Simpl chief executive, Bennett Medary.

Work has already commenced and the go-live date is scheduled for mid-2009, says Medary.

Fred Health looked around the world for an electronic prescription exchange system, and did find some, but none met the organisation’s requirements around consumer choice, says Naismith.

“We needed to build the technology and, even though we are a development house, I’m not a great believer in re-inventing things that are already done,” he says.

He says Simpl had done some interesting work together with Microsoft around the health connection engine, and Fred Health decided that platform was the appropriate way to go.

“The expertise was just over the water,” says Naismith, adding that Simpl brings not only the technology skills, but also an understanding for the need for collaboration between vendor partners. “An exchange only works if everybody uses it,” he says.

The eRx gateway will provide an open platform available to all doctors and pharmacies via their chosen software provider, he says.

Fred Health plans to roll the system out to as many of its sites as possible, but the implementation will start small-scale, says Naismith. He expects the system to be rolled out to 2,000 sites by this time next year.

The main goal of the project is to improve patient safety, but also to reduce errors and improve efficiency.

Paper prescriptions won’t be removed at the first stages of the project, mainly to limit change for doctors, pharmacies and the public.

But when paper is removed in the future, there will be significant cost savings, he says.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, which represents Australia’s 5,000 community pharmacies, has already pre-purchased 10 million transactions on eRx for its members.

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Tags simplDevelopment IDfred health

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