As you will be aware, information regarding new rules for electronic prescriptions to support virtual care in the community were sent to you on 31 March 2020. Please see the details here.
The Ministry of Health (the Ministry) introduced new rules to make it easier for you to provide electronic prescriptions to support virtual care during the Covid-19 epidemic when exchanging paper prescriptions between prescriber, patient and pharmacy was burdensome, challenging and unsafe. Some of the rules apply to systems that are integrated to the New Zealand Electronic Prescription Service (NZePS). Others were temporary and have now been extended to the 24th September 2020.
The Director General of Health approved a temporary waiver for community and hospital prescribers that do not use a system that can integrate with NZePS. This allowed prescriptions not signed personally by a prescriber with their usual signature, to be recognised as legal prescriptions if they meet certain conditions that ensured easy identification of the prescriber and the healthcare facility. This provision acknowledged that the Covid-19 pandemic required new models for care including telehealth to enable care to be delivered in a manner that was safe for patients and clinicians. The requirement to print, sign and post a prescription to a pharmacy as required in the current regulations presented a number of issues due to postal services disruption, risks related to exchanging paper prescriptions and that many clinicians were working away from their normal places of work and lacked the equipment needed to print and scan or fax a signed script to pharmacy.
This waiver has been extended until 24th September 2020 when prescribing methods will return to normal.