We live so much of our lives online – from banking, to shopping and even watching TV. So why wouldn’t you want the ease and convenience of getting prescription medication digitally too? Save yourself the time spent going down to your doctor’s office to pick up a script, or the hassle of your local chemist storing hard copy prescriptions for you, thanks to online prescriptions. Plus, being paper-free they’re great for the environment!
We’ll explain everything you need to know about online prescriptions and answer some of the most common questions surrounding them.
What is an online prescription?
An instant online prescription, also known as an eScript, is a digital version of the paper prescription your doctor would have previously printed out or handwritten for you. Normally your doctor will either email an eScript to you or send it to your phone via an SMS. It’s instant, you can’t lose it and you always have it on you (providing you have your smartphone on you, of course!).
The only real difference between an eScript and a paper script is that your doctor can only send it to you – they can’t send it straight to your chemist via fax like they can with a handwritten script. But to be honest, less and less people have access to a fax machine these days, so this isn’t a huge concern for most people.
How do online prescriptions work?
When you’re given an online prescription, the message will contain what is called a QR code. A QR code is a unique square image made up of various smaller squares, very similar to a barcode. When scanned by a chemist, your script’s information will become available to them, same as if they scanned a barcode on a paper prescription.
All you need to do to collect your eScript is:
- Take your smartphone or tablet, like an iPad, into your chemist with the QR code on the screen.
- Let the chemist scan it.
- Then they’ll dispense your prescription as normal.
Some pharmacies offer a home delivery service. If that’s the case, you may be able to forward your QR code via email or SMS to them so they can dispense your prescription for you and deliver it that way. Speak to your pharmacist to check whether they can offer this option for you and the best contact details for them if they do.
And don’t stress, if you’re not great on your emails or phone, you can ask your doctor to send your eScript to a family member, friend or carer instead on your behalf.
Are online prescriptions safe?
Yes! Don’t worry, the QR code in your script is ‘encrypted’. That’s basically just a fancy, tech way of saying they are secure and unique, so all your personal details will be kept private and not stored anywhere they shouldn’t be. Your QR code can only be unlocked by a pharmacist when they scan it, and once it’s been scanned once, it expires.
Plus, unlike a paper script which can easily be misplaced or lost, your eScript is secure in your emails/SMS – so unless you lose access to all your devices, you’ll always have a way to get your script on-the-go.
Wait… what happens if I have a repeat prescription?
Rather than printing out a new copy of your paper script like they normally would, your chemist will send you a new QR code (via email or SMS depending on your preference) after they have dispensed the first round of your eScript. This will happen until all your repeats are complete.
Accidentally delete the SMS/email? You’re basically in the same boat as if you’d lost your paper script repeat. Unfortunately, it’s back to the doctor to ask for a replacement…
I take a variety of medication, how will eScripts work for me?
Each individual prescription will come through as its own QR code in an individual SMS or email. If you have a lot of ongoing prescriptions to manage, you can set up something called an Active Script List (ASL).
An ASL is basically a secure, digital list and once you’ve set it up you no longer need to keep track of all your individual QR codes. Your chemist can simply scan once and dispense all your different medications in one go.
Can I get an online script bulk billed?
If you don’t have time to visit your GP, you may even be able to get an online script bulk billed. There are several reputable Australian websites who will provide eScripts to patients for common medicines – all you need to do is search for a service via Google, then follow their prompts to answer a few medical questions or book a telehealth appointment through the website. A bulk billed online script is just a few clicks away!
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