Is your script legal? What you need to know about e-scripts and if they're legally compliant.
EMGuidance Script - the only script that doesn't need to come from the doctors office!
EMGuidance Script is the only script that doesn't need to come from the doctors office!
I’m a pharmacist working at EMGuidance and involved in bringing EMGuidance Script to market.
Having been actively engaging with pharmacies about electronic prescribing over the last few months, the most common statement I hear is “the script needs to come from the doctor’s rooms”. By this stage there is usually a frustrated patient waiting for medication and a very busy pharmacist trying to figure out what to do. These are three easy steps to make sure you don't get to this point.
Step 1: A quick refresh of the legislation about electronic prescribing
- Regulation 33 of the Medicines and Related Substances Act 101 of 1965 details the requirements of a valid prescription.
- Electronic prescriptions need to be prepared with an electronic agent as defined by and in compliance with the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002 (ECTA) and signed with an advanced electronic signature as per section 13 of the ECTA
- An electronic agent is defined by the ECTA as a computer program or an electronic or other automated means used independently to initiate an action or respond to data messages or performances in whole or in part, in an automated transaction.
- An advanced electronic signature (AES) is defined by the ECTA as an electronic signature that results from a process which has been accredited by the South African Accreditation Authority (SAAA).
- In this process a certificate authority (e.g TrustFactory) will issue a digital certificate to a user once they have been verified according to the auditable process.
- When a doctor signs a script using their digital certificate, the certificate details are encrypted into the prescription using 2 factor authentication.
- A traditional cursive signature will not be present on the document
- To check if a document has been signed using an advanced electronic signature, the document needs to be opened on a PDF viewer and the certificate authority and signatory details be viewed on the signature panel. The level of digital signature will need to be verified on the certificate authority website.
Key takeaways from the legislation:
- When a prescription has been prepared using an electronic agent and signed using an advanced electronic signature, it meets the legislative requirements of electronic prescribing and constitutes the original script
- It does not need to be emailed from the doctor’s rooms (for any medicine schedule). We suspect this confusion stems from suggestions made by the PSSA regarding Schedule 5 and 6 prescriptions during the COVID-19 national lockdown. However, this only applies to scripts that are not prepared by an electronic agent and not signed using AES. Currently the only electronic agent that uses AES is EMGuidance Script.
- The AES signed PDF is the valid original script and can be kept for SAPC audits
Step 2: Short overview about EMGuidance Script
- EMGuidance Script is a new electronic prescription platform brought to you by the team at EMGuidance.
- EMGuidance Script scripts meet the legislative requirements of electronic scripting (for every schedule of medicine) because they are prepared using an electronic agent and signed using an advanced electronic signature.
- The patient receives a script preview and can request the script be sent to a pharmacy by pressing the “send to pharmacy” option on their patient preview. Pharmacies can also access the valid scripts using the script code via the EMGuidance Script pharmacy portal.
- Furthermore, an immutable tracking history of every action on the script supports pharmacists in assessing whether the script has already been sent to other pharmacies.
- Please visit our resources centre to find useful videos and documents to support you and have a look at our information page for dispensers. Accessing EMGuidance Script scripts is free for pharmacies so please don’t hesitate to create a pharmacy store account now!
Step 3 - Share with your colleagues
- Now that you understand the fundamentals of electronic prescribing and how EMGuidance Script works, share it with your colleagues so that patients have a seamless experience with their electronic prescriptions at your pharmacy.
Lastly, let’s build something together! There is no turning back, digital prescribing is here and together we can build systems that support prescribers and dispensers in the quest to provide access to quality patient care. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for any questions on firstname.lastname@example.org.