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Frequently Asked Questions

Canada Health Infoway, a government funded, not-for-profit organization, is working with Health Canada, the provinces and territories and industry stakeholders to create, operate and maintain a financially self-sustaining, multi-jurisdiction e-prescribing service, known as PrescribeIT®. This national service is being scaled for use across the country, enabling prescribers to electronically transmit a prescription to a patient’s pharmacy of choice.

 

What does PrescribeIT® do?

PrescribeIT® is a national e-prescribing service that lets physicians send prescriptions electronically from their office computer system to your preferred pharmacy. PrescribeIT® has two core functions:

  • Electronic Prescriptions - the electronic transmission of a prescription from a physician’s computer system to a pharmacy without having to bring a paper prescription
  • Electronic Renewals - the electronic transmission of a prescription renewal request from a pharmacy to a physician computer system without having to fax or phone a clinic

Is there a fee for using PrescribeIT®?
There is no additional charge to patients when their prescriptions are sent through PrescribeIT®.

Will all physicians and pharmacies use PrescribeIT®?
PrescribeIT® is a national service that is being made available to all community physicians and pharmacies across the country. The service has launched in select communities in Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick and will continue to roll out across the country. If physicians or pharmacies are not connected to PrescribeIT®, they will continue to write and send your prescriptions just like they do now.

What are the advantages of using PrescribeIT® for prescriptions?
Research has demonstrated that in countries where e-prescribing is available, patients may experience better health outcomes and enhanced safety. Other benefits include:

  • Fewer medication-related errors
  • Less risk of losing prescriptions
  • Lower risk of privacy breaches due to fax transmissions issues
  • Less fraud and abuse of prescriptions
  • Patients pharmacy of choice assured

With PrescribeIT®, does this mean that I will no longer receive paper prescriptions from my physician?
If your physician and pharmacy are using PrescribeIT®, you will no longer receive paper prescriptions. If you would like a paper copy, you can request one from your physician. In the early stages, not all physicians and pharmacies will be on PrescribeIT®, so paper and fax prescriptions will still be used from time to time. Eventually when all physicians and pharmacies are connected to PrescribeIT®, there will be no more paper prescriptions.

My physician already sends my prescriptions automatically to my pharmacy. How is PrescribeIT® different?
Your physician is likely sending your prescription to your pharmacy by fax, which is essentially a picture of the prescription. PrescribeIT® is different because it transmits prescriptions electronically as data directly into the pharmacy management system, which helps to avoid transcription errors and ensures privacy.

How will I know if my pharmacy is connected to PrescribeIT®?
When you check in for a visit with your physician, the office staff will let you know whether your physician is using PrescribeIT®. You can also ask your preferred pharmacy whether they are part of the PrescribeIT® initiative.

What if I can’t remember the name or location of the pharmacy when my physician’s office staff asks me where to send an electronic prescription to?
You’ll have to know either the name or location of the pharmacy in order for your physician’s office staff to check if it is connected to PrescribeIT®.

What if my pharmacy is not connected to PrescribeIT®?
If a pharmacy is not connected to PrescribeIT®, your prescriber will follow the same process that they do today and provide you with a paper prescription.

What happens if my electronic prescription is sent to a pharmacy but I want to pick up the prescription at another pharmacy?
You can still change your mind after the prescription has been sent. If you asked your physician to send a prescription to a pharmacy but then you decide to pick up the prescription somewhere else, you can go to the pharmacy where you want to pick up your prescription and ask them to transfer your prescription. Your preferred pharmacy location will contact the pharmacy that the electronic prescription was originally sent to and take the necessary steps to have your prescription filled (not available for certain medications such as narcotics).

Will my prescription be ready for me as soon as I arrive at the pharmacy?
Your pharmacist’s main concern is your health and safety. The pharmacist has a responsibility to ensure that every prescription is right for you before they dispense it. In order to do that, they may need to have a discussion with you before beginning to prepare your prescription.

What happens if my electronic prescription is sent to a pharmacy but I want to pick up the prescription at another pharmacy?
You can still change your mind after the prescription has been sent. If you asked your physician to send a prescription to a pharmacy but then you decide to pick up the prescription somewhere else, you can go to the pharmacy where you want to pick up your prescription and ask them to transfer your prescription. Your preferred pharmacy location will contact the pharmacy that the electronic prescription was originally sent to and take the necessary steps to have your prescription filled (not available for certain medications such as narcotics).

Will my prescription be ready for me as soon as I arrive at the pharmacy?
Your pharmacist’s main concern is your health and safety. The pharmacist has a responsibility to ensure that every prescription is right for you before they dispense it. In order to do that, they may need to have a discussion with you before beginning to prepare your prescription.

Can I still receive a paper copy for an electronic prescription that has been sent to the pharmacy?
Your physician will be able to print a receipt of your prescription, however, you will not receive a paper prescription if your prescription has been sent through PrescribeIT®. The receipt will include all the key prescription information such as name of the medication, dose and frequency, however, the receipt printed is not a legal prescription and cannot be filled at the pharmacy. The receipt can be used to remind you which pharmacy the electronic prescription was sent to and when, but is not a valid prescription.

Can I have my prescription renewed through PrescribeIT®?
PrescribeIT® enables a pharmacy to send an electronic renewal request to a physician without having to phone or fax the clinic. Electronic renewals simplify the renewal request process by removing much of the back and forth that currently happens between physicians and pharmacies.

How secure is PrescribeIT®? How will my personal health and prescription information be protected?
PrescribeIT® has undergone rigorous testing to ensure that all security standards are up to date and compliant with Federal and Provincial privacy requirements. Patient data will be fully protected and will not be released or used for any commercial purposes.

I didn’t consent to this. I don’t want to participate.
Physicians and pharmacies use PrescribeIT® under the authority of the Health Information Act. They must inform you about why they are collecting your health information and answer your questions about these services, but are not required to obtain your consent to make your health information available to PrescribeIT®.

If you are concerned about how much of your health information is being made available to PrescribeIT® please discuss your concerns with your physician or pharmacist. These health services providers have a duty under the Health Information Act to consider your wishes and exercise their professional judgement before deciding how much of your health information to make available to these systems. Depending on your circumstances, they may discuss options with you to use a paper prescription, or to otherwise restrict access to your health information in their systems.

I want to get a copy of my information in PrescribeIT®
Most likely, the information you are interested in is stored in your physician’s or pharmacy’s own systems. Under the Health Information Act, you have a right to request access to your health information in the custody or control of your physician or pharmacy. Please make any requests directly to your physician or pharmacy and Infoway will help them respond.

I believe there is an error or omission in my information in PrescribeIT®. I want to request a correction.
Most likely, the information you are interested in is stored in your physician’s or pharmacy’s own systems. Under the Health Information Act, you have a right to request access to your health information in the custody or control of your physician or pharmacy. Please make any requests directly to your physician or pharmacy and Infoway will help them respond.

I want to register a privacy complaint. I’m not satisfied with the response I received to my access or correction request.
If you believe your health information has been collected, used or disclosed inappropriately by anyone participating in PrescribeIT®, you may complain to the Information and Privacy Commissioner. The Commissioner also has a mandate to review responses to access and correction requests made under the Health Information Act.

Other than electronic prescriptions and electronic renewals, what other services will be introduced with PrescribeIT®?
We are working closely with patients, physicians and pharmacists to add more functions to PrescribeIT®. New PrescribeIT® functions being planned and targeted for release in 2018 include the ability for:

  • Physicians and pharmacists to message directly with each other through their computer systems
  • Physicians to check and see which medications are covered under the provincial drug plan right at the time of prescribing
  • Physicians to cancel electronic prescriptions sent to pharmacies
  • Physicians to see whether a medication has been dispensed by the pharmacy

If I want my physician and/or pharmacy to participate in PrescribeIT® who should I ask them to contact?
Please ask the physician or pharmacy to contact us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If the physician or pharmacy is interested in registering for the service, they can fill out an application of interest at: www.PrescribeIT.ca/application.

When will PrescribeIT® be available?

PrescribeIT® has launched in select communities in Ontario, Alberta and New Brunswick with plans to roll-out to additional provinces across the country.

Is PrescribeIT® available to all prescribers and pharmacies?

PrescribeIT® is a national service available to all community prescribers and community pharmacies across the country. We are working closely with Health Canada, the provinces and territories, and private sector health IT providers to enable prescribers and retail pharmacies to participate regardless of the EMR or pharmacy system they use.

Is there a fee for using PrescribeIT®?
Health Canada has provided the non-repayable seed capital to launch PrescribeIT® which essentially subsidizes or offsets the cost of the service for several years. This allows us to provide a fee-holiday for participating pharmacies until August 31, 2019. After this, a nominal contribution towards the cost of sustaining PrescribeIT® will be assessed to pharmacies on a per transaction basis.

What types of prescriptions will PrescribeIT® support?
PrescribeIT® allows prescribers to electronically prescribe medications including narcotics, compounds and devices such as lancets and blood test strips.

How will PrescribeIT® meet the requirements for original signatures?
Health Canada, NAPRA (National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities) and the Office of Controlled Substances have established policies that indicate electronic signatures are equally acceptable as an original physician signature.

What if the patient’s preferred pharmacy is not PrescribeIT® enabled?
Our goal is to make PrescribeIT® available to all community prescribers and community pharmacies across the country. If a patient’s preferred pharmacy location is not yet connected to PrescribeIT®, prescribers may continue to use their previous method of prescribing – i.e. write, print or fax.

How is PrescribeIT® different from what I’m doing now?

  • Prescriptions sent by auto-faxing (or e-faxing) send the prescription to the pharmacy as an image. The prescription details are then interpreted by the pharmacist and typed into the pharmacy management system leaving open the possibility for transcription errors.
  • PrescribeIT® electronic prescriptions are sent as data. Prescription details are auto-populated directly into the pharmacy software. As a result, the possibility of transcription errors is reduced, leading to improved patient safety and decreased medication errors.
  • Electronic prescriptions, unlike paper or fax prescriptions, are not visible to anyone except the prescriber and pharmacist, providing additional security and privacy around a patient’s personal health and prescription information.

Can a prescriber modify a prescription after it has been sent via PrescribeIT®?
Prescribers are able to cancel an existing prescription and issue a new prescription. However, PrescribeIT® does not support a function to alter or modify a prescription after it has been sent. The clinical communications feature included in PrescribeIT® allows prescribers and pharmacies to exchange secure messages through their EMR and Pharmacy Management Systems to discuss medication related issues.

Can a prescriber discontinue a medication through PrescribeIT®?
Prescribers are able to cancel an existing prescription and issue a new prescription. The clinical communications feature allows prescribers and pharmacies to exchange secure messages through their EMR and Pharmacy Management Systems and to discuss medication related issues.

Is access to the provincial formulary available with PrescribeIT®?
In jurisdictions where it is available, PrescribeIT® will enable access to provincial drug formularies providing prescribers with coverage details and medication cost information. Access to the provincial formulary will be embedded within the EMR providing a seamless experience for the prescriber.

Will prescribers be notified if the pharmacist changes a prescription?
Just like today, prescribers will not be notified of small changes, such as a brand substitution. For more significant changes where a pharmacist adapts a prescription, prescribers will continue to be notified, consistent with current practice. The clinical communications feature included in PrescribeIT® greatly expedites prescriber / pharmacy communication.

When a patient is discharged from hospital can a prescription be sent to a community pharmacy using PrescribeIT®?
At this time, PrescribeIT® is only available to community prescribers and community pharmacies. Connecting hospital clinical information systems (CIS) to PrescribeIT® is being considered for future releases.

How is patient choice of pharmacy maintained with PrescribeIT®?
Maintaining patient choice is of utmost importance to PrescribeIT®. At the time of prescribing, the prescriber will confirm with the patient his/her pharmacy of choice. If the pharmacy is not PrescribeIT® enabled, the prescriber may revert to his/her usual method of prescribing – i.e. write, print or fax.

Is PrescribeIT® simple and easy to use? Does PrescribeIT® place additional workflow requirements on prescribers or pharmacies?

  • PrescribeIT® integrates directly into a prescriber’s existing EMR or in a pharmacy management system and is designed to produce minimal changes for users.
  • In addition, the PrescribeIT® team is studying existing prescriber workflows and identifying ways to integrate electronic prescribing into prescriber practice settings with minimal disruption to clinic operations.
  • Similarly, the PrescribeIT® team is also studying existing pharmacy workflows to identify ways to help integrate electronic prescribing into pharmacy practices to further enhance day-to-day operations.

What if a patient expresses concerns about their information being made accessible to others via PrescribeIT®?

  • Under the Health Information Act, healthcare practitioners have a duty to consider requests from patients who wish to limit the amount of health information you make available to PrescribeIT® and provincial healthcare systems. In such cases it is necessary to weigh such requests against other factors considered to be important (such as patient safety and other legal requirements). Once a decision has been made, the patient should be advised. It is recommended that a record of this decision is kept.
  • If a prescriber decides to follow the patient’s request, a traditional paper prescription may be used rather than PrescribeIT®. Despite the use of a paper prescription, the patient’s dispense information will still be retained by their pharmacy.
  • If the patient has expressed general concerns about their health information being made available in provincial systems, you may also consider applying the controls in your electronic medical record (EMR) or Pharmacy management system (PMS) to limit access to the patient’s record, if appropriate. Contact your EMR or PMS vendor for guidance on how to limit access to health information in your systems.

How will the PrescribeIT® team support users in the successful adoption of the service? Who should I contact if I have an issue using PrescribeIT®?

  • While PrescribeIT® has been designed to minimize workflow impact on prescribers and pharmacies, we recognize that with any new technology, introducing change can be challenging.
  • If you experience issues using PrescribeIT®, please contact your EMR or pharmacy management system’s customer support service.They are equipped to answer your questions and guide you through the problem resolution process.

Not all the prescribers at my clinic want to use PrescribeIT®. Can those who do sign up?
Yes. As long as a prescriber is using an EMR application that has been PrescribeIT® certified he/she can be registered, activated, and trained on PrescribeIT®. As others at the clinic express interest and are ready to participate, the same registration, activation and training process will be completed with the interested prescriber.

Will a prescriber need to administer patient consent before collecting health information with PrescribeIT®?
PrescribeIT® does not introduce new uses and disclosures of health information that are not presently available to clinicians. PrescribeIT® simply changes the way that prescription information and clinical communications are relayed. You should continue to obtain patient consent for the collections, uses, and disclosures of health information that you currently obtain consent for. In cases where you are permitted to use PrescribeIT® without patient consent, you are still expected to inform patients about your information handling practices. In some jurisdictions, you are legally obligated to inform patients about your information handling practices.

What if a patient makes a formal request to access or correct their records in PrescribeIT®?
Patient data is not held and cannot be viewed through PrescribeIT®. Rather, patient data is stored in a provincial or territorial Drug Information System that includes a complete medication history of both the prescription and dispensing record. However, since PrescribeIT® information is within your control, under the law you must respond to such individual access requests.

Is PrescribeIT® secure? How is patient personal health and prescription information protected?

  • Protecting patient personal health and prescription information is of utmost importance to PrescribeIT®. All information is maintained in accordance with all provincial, federal and legal obligations and ensures personal health information remains confidential.
  • Infoway has ensured through contractual obligations that others do not have or assert any ownership or other proprietary right to the data nor can they sell, disclose, transfer, assign, lease or otherwise commercially exploit the data. Furthermore, all of PrescribeIT’s data is stored and processed within Canadian borders, encrypted at rest and in transit, and will not be released or used for any commercial purposes.
  • A Privacy Impact Assessment as well as a Threat Risk Assessment have been completed to identify privacy and information security risks associated with deployment in each jurisdiction. A summary of these assessments is available to you, either directly through Infoway or through other entities providing PrescribeIT® in your jurisdiction.
  • Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out more about these assessments.