Real Time Prescription Monitoring

Western Australia currently operates a comprehensive prescription monitoring program that has been in place for many years. This collects all dispensing data relating to Schedule 8 medicines from community pharmacies. The data is made available to health practitioners via a telephone information service. The data is actively monitored by the Department of Health and action is taken in relation to any concerning patterns of supply.

The Department of Health acknowledges that, while effective, the current system is constrained in timeliness and accessibility, by the technology used. The Department is committed to reform of the current monitoring program, through use of newer technology, to provide secure real-time access, at the point of prescribing, 24/7. 

The Department of Health continues to maintain and improve the existing prescription monitoring program in place in Western Australia, until such time as RTPM is achieved.  

In April 2018, though the COAG Health Council, WA along with other States and Territories committed to:

“progress national real time prescription monitoring as a federated model with jurisdictions committed to progressing development and adaptation of systems to connect to and interface with Commonwealth systems to achieve a national solution.”

Components of the National Real Time Prescription Monitoring system

The National Real Time Prescription Monitoring system will comprise:

  • National Data Exchange (NDE) - The NDE will be built by the Commonwealth and supported by commercial providers. Collection of the data will be governed by relevant State and Territory laws, and operation of the system will be under the care and control of the respective jurisdiction. 
  • State and Territory Regulatory Systems - Jurisdictional regulatory systems will feed to the NDE and provide the basis for transfer of various types of regulatory information, including different patient and prescribing alerts.
  • Electronic Prescription Exchanges (PES) - Existing electronic prescription exchanges will be used to ensure real time capture of Schedule 8 medicine supply data. 
  • Prescribing and dispensing systems - Commercial systems in use by medical and pharmacy practices will send prescribing and dispensing data to the NDE via the electronic prescription exchanges.

Systems will be capable of receiving notifications and alerts in real-time from the NDE and jurisdictional regulatory systems.

Information available on the Real Time prescription Monitoring system
  • Prescribing information
  • Dispensing information
  • Regulatory authorisations and approvals
  • Alerts and notifications
  • Schedule 8 data
  • Schedule 4 reportable data – medicines that have been prescribed by regulation, for example benzodiazepines, tramadol, compound codeine products (pending regulation changes)
Access to the Real Time prescription Monitoring system
  • Access for prescribers
  • Access for hospitals
  • Access for dispensers
Developing the Real Time prescription Monitoring system

A new controlled drugs database, the Electronic Recording and Reporting of Controlled Drugs (ERRCD) was implemented by the Department in February 2021. This database replaced the MODDS database and was a pre-requisite for implementation of RTPM.

Next steps towards RTPM in WA are:

  • Commencement of dispensing and prescribing data flow from PES to NDE
  • Commencement of dispensing data flow from NDE to ERRCD
  • Regulatory alerts being pushed from ERRCD to NDE
  • Development of self-service portal, to allow secure clinician sign-up and access
  • Opening of the health practitioner portal.

The final step to release the Health Practitioner Portal is expected to be completed in early 2022.

Stakeholder consultation

Between April and June 2019 the Department of Health ran a series of stakeholder workshops for prescribers, dispensers and consumers.

  • Workshop 1 – medicines to include in RTPM
  • Workshop 2 – alerts, notifications , and mandating use
  • Workshop 3 – training for users, education for consumers, evaluation and research

The workshops will be used to inform policy and regulation when implementing RTPM in Western Australia.

Other related works in progress

Other milestones required to implement RTPM include:

  • intergovernmental agreements on entry into the NDE (complete)
  • legislation changes to support entry into the NDE and information transfer via prescription exchanges (complete)
  • funding agreements
  • scoping for integration between the NDE and WA regulatory system (complete)
  • design projects for promotion and education to users and consumers.
National system

A national RTPM system is dependent on other States and Territories entering the NDE and the existence of suitable agreements on data sharing and privacy.  Entry of Western Australia into the NDE in the first instance will progress on the basis of the WA situation (WA data) rather than any exchange of data between jurisdictions. The timing of entry of Western Australia is not dependent on plans in other jurisdictions.

More information

Medicines and Poisons Regulation Branch
Mailing address: PO Box 8172, Perth Business Centre, WA 6849
Phone: 9222 6883

Last reviewed: 24-08-2021
Produced by

Medicines and Poisons Regulation Branch