Some of the documents available on this page are currently being updated to reflect amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1977 that come into effect on 22 December 2022.
On this page:
- About the NZ ePrescription Service
- Expanding the NZ ePrescription Service
- NZePS uptake
- Benefits to patients
- Security of information
- Frequently Asked Questions - Secure Messaging
- Signature Exempt Prescriptions and remote prescribing
- Extension of temporary prescription waivers during COVID-19
- ePrescriptions for Controlled Drugs
- Letter to sector - Patient Choice of Pharmacy
The NZ ePrescription Service (NZePS) provides a secure messaging channel for prescribing and dispensing systems to exchange prescription information electronically. It enables a prescription to be generated by the prescriber, transmitted to the NZePS health information exchange broker, and downloaded electronically at a community pharmacy.
The prescriber can note the reason for prescribing and make other comments at the time of prescribing. This will be sent as part of the prescription information passed electronically to the pharmacy. Prescribers can request a notification when a patient’s medication has not been dispensed, and pharmacists can send dispensing comments back to the prescriber.
The NZePS is integrated with the Medtech, MyPractice, Indici, Profile for Windows, Medimap, Elixir and Expect Maternity practice management systems, as well as the Waikato District’s Clinical Workstation Outpatient Prescribing service. The Ministry is also working with other Prescribing System providers and residential care electronic charting services to enable their customers to access NZePS.
From 22 December 2022, changes to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1977 allow signature-exempt prescriptions for controlled drug medicines to be made through the NZePS. This reduces the administrative burden for prescribers and pharmacists because it was previously a requirement for the prescriber to provide a hard copy, signed version of any prescription for a controlled drug medicine.
The changes also allow, in principle, prescriptions for Class B controlled drug medicines to cover a period of up to 3 months (instead of 1 month) when the prescription is issued through the NZePS. This improves access for patients who need these important medicines by reducing the number of prescriber visits required, which is of particular benefit to those in rural areas. There is no change to the requirement that the maximum amount of a controlled drug that can be dispensed is an amount sufficient for 1 month of use.
The changes do not remove the requirement for prescribers to operate within the limits of the Pharmaceutical Schedule managed by Pharmac. Prescribers must also continue to take a cautious approach toward controlled drug medicines. This includes carefully considering the appropriate duration that a drug should be prescribed for and the appropriate schedule for dispensing.
As a result of the amendments to the regulations, Pharmac is currently consulting on proposed amendments to the Pharmaceutical Schedule to determine what appropriate controls should be placed on specific Class B controlled drug medicines. You can have your say on the proposed amendments by making a submission before 9 December 2022.
NZePS Practices Activated per DHB
NZePS Pharmacies Scanning per DHB
NZePS Practices Activated per PHO
Over time, NZePS prescribing will improve patient safety and quality of care through:
- reduced risk of transcribing errors during dispensing
- better communication between the prescriber and pharmacist, which will help reduce oral miscommunication and decrease the need for phone calls between them
- ability to evaluate and address patient medicines adherence issues. With NZePS, the prescriber can choose to be notified when a patient’s medication has not been dispensed, which can help determine whether or not a patient’s treatment plan is working
- improving the quality of patient medication history information, as the patient clinical record can be updated when medicines are dispensed.
Information on the NZePS broker is transmitted to and from the NZePS broker by the secure private health network, Connected Health. The barcode on a paper prescription is a unique code. Electronic prescriptions and dispensing details are also encrypted when they are sent to and retrieved from the NZePS broker.
Please note: This is a living FAQ document that we will add to and change over time so practices and pharmacies should check back for the latest updates on these Q&As. Any additions will be added, or changes made, at the beginning of each month.
If you need further information please email [email protected]
- Frequently Asked Questions - Secure Messaging - Dec 2019 (DOCX, 270 KB)
- Frequently Asked Questions - Secure Messaging - Dec 2019 (PDF, 437 KB)
The Ministry of Health has introduced rules to make it easier for you to provide electronic prescriptions to support virtual care.
Some of the rules apply to systems that are integrated to the New Zealand Electronic Prescription Service (NZePS) and are enduring and scheduled to be codified into legislation.
Others are temporary and will expire on 31 October 2024. This authorisation enables systems and settings that are working towards NZePS integration time to complete this work.
Due to COVID-19 authorised prescribers can issue Controlled Drug (CD) ePrescriptions as soon as the practice has completed the NZePS activation.
- Memo: Approval to issue Controlled Drug ePrescriptions (PDF, 205 KB) - updated 3 August 2020.
- Memo: Approval to issue Controlled Drug ePrescriptions (Word, 35 KB) - updated 3 August 2020.
A reminder for clinicians of the patient's right to choose their own pharmacy.