Across Australia last year, more than 1,700 drug-related deaths
were accidental and most involved prescription medications, according to data
Annual Overdose Report2018,from the Pennington
Institute. The year before, more Victorians died from accidental overdoses than
in road traffic collisions.
Now, in an effort to avoid
further preventable deaths, the Victorian Department of Health and Human
Services (DHHS) has begun rolling out its $30-million prescription monitoring
system to doctors and pharmacists.
Developed by Fred IT Group
on Microsoft Azure, the application SafeScript provides medical practitioners
with real-time monitoring for high-risk and potentially addictive drugs such as
morphine and oxycodone, codeine and diazepam.
Although the department had
implemented regulatory measures previously, it needed to fully “transform” its
methods, according to Matthew McCrone, director of real-time prescription
monitoring implementation for the DHHS.
“The problem is that too
many people are dying from prescription medicines, from overdose,” he said. “That
number is ever-growing.
“Preventing deaths from
prescription drug overdose is why we’re doing this. And the way to get there is
to help doctors and pharmacists make more informed clinical decisions and thus
facilitate safer prescribing and dispensing of these high-risk medicines.”
Fred IT Group first won the
contract todevelop SafeScript for the Victorian Government in
The Victoria-based services provider used Azure,
Event Hub, Stream Analytics, WebJobs and Enterprise Service Bus, to create a
solution that ingests prescription and dispensing data through eRx Script
Exchange and MediSecure. The processed data is then
stored in Azure SQL and insights are pushed into PowerBI for further analysis
The DHHS also worked with
Microsoft partner CNI to develop a hosting framework in Azure, which will manage
security, event management and disaster recovery.
The aim of the solution is
to send alerts to registered and authorised medics and pharmacists –
potentially up to 30,000 of them – when a patient has gone to multiple
dispensaries for the same medicine over a short period of time or they are
using a risky combination of medicines that elevates the risk of overdose.
In order to ensure the
solution’s security, registered practitioners are required to
undergomulti-factor authentication,which, according to Fred IT CEO
Paul Naismith, represents the largest ever deployment in the Australian health
“Before SafeScript, you
could only see what you prescribed or dispensed at your clinic or pharmacy,” he
added. “Now you can actually see if your patient has visited other doctors or
pharmacies for the same medication, so you know who their doctor is, you can
talk to the doctor, you can get the information you need, and just having those
alerts to know if there is a problem.”
The DHHS first began
rolling out in Western Victoria Primary Health Network in last October, with
the statewide implementation beginning last month.
According to the
department, by April 2020, every medical practitioner and pharmacist in the
state will need to access SafeScript before they dispense or prescribe the
“It is, ultimately, about
making sure that the clinician has information in front of him or her, at the
point that they’re needing to make a decision about whether to prescribe a
particular medicine or dispense it,” added McCrone. “So, SafeScript provides
them that information in as seamless a way as possible. Equally important –
and, this is the other thing that we need to deliver – is that the clinician
knows what to do next.”