Canada nears launch of national e-prescription service

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TORONTO — Canada is set to begin deploying a national electronic prescribing platform, called PrescribeIT.

Canada Health Infoway, a federally funded, nonprofit digital health organization, said Wednesday that it has reached agreements to enable PrescribeIT in six provinces: Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland/Labrador. Those provinces represent 61% of the Canadian population.

Plans call for the e-prescribing service to be implemented in various communities in Ontario in the coming weeks and to deploy in Alberta 0in the fall.

PrescribeIT will allow prescribers to securely transmit an prescription from an electronic medical record (EMR) to the pharmacy management system at a patient’s pharmacy of choice.

Canada Health Infoway said it’s currently working to deploy the platform with 16 community pharmacy operators that have local, regional and national reach and represent more than 2,600 stores in six provinces. EMR and pharmacy management system vendors also have been secured.

Talks with additional provinces and territories, pharmacies and technology providers are continuing, Canada Health Infoway said. A nationwide rollout of PrescribeIT is expected to start in mid-2018.

PrescribeIT_Canada Health InfowayIn its initial release, PrescribeIT’s features will include the ability to securely send e-scripts for all medications, including controlled substances; deliver a prescription to a patient’s pharmacy; send prescription renewal requests from a pharmacist to a prescriber; and cancel a transaction by the prescriber or pharmacist.

Prescribers also will have access to an integrated, public drug formulary to help confirm relative costs and coverage. PrescribeIT, too, will allow secure messaging between prescribers and pharmacists, eliminating fax and phone activity, and the platform will be integrated with provincial/territorial drug information systems to contribute to secure patient medication histories. Additional functionality will be added over time.

PrescribeIT is expected to decrease patient wait times for their prescriptions, enhance patient safety by reducing the possibility of medication errors, improve medication management and patient health outcomes, reduce fraud and abuse by eliminating handwritten prescriptions, ensure data integrity for monitoring of controlled substances, and create a commercial-free prescribing and dispensing environment.

The platform also will unify patient health information, safeguard patient health data from commercial use and reduce back-and-forth communication between health care providers.

“Canadians can trust PrescribeIT to protect their personal health information from being sold or used for marketing or other commercial purposes,” Canada Health Infoway president and chief executive officer Michael Green said in a statement.  “Importantly, Canada’s doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and pharmacists can also be assured that PrescribeIT won’t inappropriately influence their prescribing or dispensing decisions.”

Canada Health Infoway is charged with driving the adoption of electronic health records and digital health solutions across Canada. Its members include Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial deputy ministers of health. In May, Canada Health Infoway selected TELUS Health as the technology provider to help design, build and operate PrescribeIT.


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