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Defining e-Prescribing

There are several definitions of e-prescribing being developed in Canada and it is important to support a common definition in multiple jurisdictions to ensure consistency among technical solutions. Two leading definitions are from Health Canada, and in the United States, the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP).


NCPDP Definition #1:

Electronic prescribing, as defined by the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP), a standards development organization, has two parts:

Part 1: Two way [electronic] communication between physicians and pharmacies involving new prescriptions, refill authorizations, change requests, cancel prescriptions, and prescription fill messages to track patient compliance. Electronic prescribing is not faxing or printing paper prescriptions.

Part 2: Potential for information sharing with other health care partners including eligibility/formulary information and medication history.1

NCPDP Definition #2:

e-Prescribing is the ability of a physician to submit a “clean” prescription directly to a pharmacy from the point of care.2

Health Canada

Health Canada defines e-prescribing as a means of streamlining the prescription process by enabling prescriptions to be created, signed and transmitted electronically. There are significant benefits associated with the implementation of e-Rx including the potential to reduce the incidence of medication and dispensing errors caused by illegible prescriptions, a potential decline in adverse drug reactions and the timely transmission of prescription information from practitioner to pharmacist. Health Canada recognizes these benefits and supports the implementation of e-Rx.


The National e-Pharmacy Task Force’s definition of e-prescribing is: e-Prescribing is the secure electronic transmission from an authorized prescriber of a prescription to a patient’s pharmacy of choice integrated with pharmacy software.

© 2009. Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores.