Final extension to image-based prescribing announced

The interim arrangements for image-based prescribing have been extended to the end of this year as it makes way for electronic prescribing, which is now widespread.

After pressure from the AMA and other medical peak bodies, the Department of Health has agreed to extend image-based prescribing to 31 December 2021. 

Not all clinical practice software is capable of electronic prescribing and the move to end image-based scripts makes no sense in the midst of a large COVID-19 outbreak, with three States under full or partial lockdown. The extension allows doctors without access to e-prescribing to email, text or fax a digital image of a paper script to the patient’s pharmacy until the end of December.

In the meantime, clinicians should contact their software providers to find out when electronic prescribing will be available.

The government subsidy for the SMS costs for GPs that do use electronic prescription tokens will continue until 30 June 2022.


The Department of Health introduced ‘image-based prescribing’ in March 2020 as an interim arrangement while electronic prescribing capabilities were being developed.

The Department has indicated that even when image-based prescribing arrangements do cease after 31 December 2021, healthcare providers that cannot access electronic prescribing through their software, will continue to have options that existed before image-based prescribing to enable remote support to their patients.

See the Fact Sheet – National Health Plan A Guide for Prescribers, which has been updated to reflect these changes.

Other prescribing options, such as urgent supply arrangements, which existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, also remain available.

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