Primary healthcare news, information & resources

New Zealand ePrescription service - information for general practices

Signature exempt prescriptions and ePrescription

You will have received a FAQ from the Ministry regarding signature exempt prescriptions. There is a current Director-General of Health waiver that permits signature exempt prescriptions for non-controlled drugs that have been generated through ePrescribing.  

This is a great opportunity to enhance the processes around virtual care. 

New rules for electronic prescriptions to support virtual care in the community - MOH announcement 31 March 2020

The Ministry of Health have introduced new rules to make it easier for you to provide electronic
prescriptions to support virtual care. This is especially important during this COVID-19 epidemic when
exchanging paper prescriptions between prescriber, patient and pharmacy is burdensome, challenging and

Some of the rules apply to systems that are integrated to the New Zealand Electronic Prescription Service
(NZePS). Others are temporary and will expire when the COVID-19 alert levels are lowered. Please see this memo from the MOH to learn more.

The NZ ePrescription Service (NZePS) - get set up

The first step to become eligible for signature exempt prescriptions is to set up ePrescribing. Details follow for various practice management systems.


All indici practices are already ePrescribing. Communication has gone out to indici practices to identify practices that want to move to signature exempt ePrescribing along with tutorial videos. If you haven't already done so please touch base with Nikki Sargent who will support you through this process:

Medtech32 and Medtech Evolution

Pinnacle have worked with both the Ministry of Health and Medtech to get all practices set up in the NZePS broker so that you can activate ePrescribing yourself.

By uploading your details to the Ministry there is no obligation for a practice to activate their practice and there are no current costs for Medtech practices for the first three months.

It is important before activating that your infrastructure meets the minimum requirements for the NZePS service. Please follow the instructions to activate your practice for ePrescribing in this Medtech activation process one-page guide. There is more comprehensive information in the Medtech Evolution activation guide and Medtech 32 guide including user manuals and webinars. The webinars go through step by step how the system works and are worth watching:

A few important things when setting up...

  • It is important when setting up ePrescribing that you exit Medtech and complete the required start of your Medtech Services before you start using NZePS (step six of the activation process) - see these instructions on how to restart Medtech services
  • Talk to your local pharmacy letting them know that you have set this up and trialling a prescription to ensure it is visible to them.
  • Create some dummy prescriptions to ensure you are familiar with using the following functions before you have a patient in front of you: amend a Rx, cancel a Rx, reprint a Rx (if lost, stolen etc) this will print the prescription with exactly the same barcode as the original ensuring it can only be dispensed once, and add a comment for the pharmacist.
  • Script nurse process - if you use this process it is the same as before NZePS. Do not use Print and Park.
  • Medtech are currently finalising their guides and webinars for detailing the process on emailing the prescriptions to the pharmacy.

My Practice

Practices using My Practice are also set up with the NZePS broker, but will need to contact your PMS provider for further details on how to set up.


Contact your PMS supplier.

Controlled drugs

Please see this memo on the approval to issue controlled drugs via ePrescribing due to the COVID-19 response. Controlled drugs includes those classified as class C - these are explained in this document (PDF).

Signature exempt prescribing

Once you are set up with ePrescribing your prescribers will also have the functionality to do signature exempt prescriptions for all medications apart from controlled drugs. Note: all prescriptions will need to be initiated by the prescribers which may mean process within your practice may need to change.

The following criteria must be met to be signature exempt:

  • the prescription must have a bar code
  • the prescription must be sent by an authorised prescriber - this will mean many practices will need to review their policies and processes for initiating and generating a repeat prescription
  • the prescription must print with 'signature exempt' on the prescription. 

See more on the Ministry of Health page: signature exempt prescriptions and remote prescribing

You can send a signature exempt prescription via HealthLink to any pharmacy that has a HealthLink EDI mailbox. You can also fax a signature exempt prescription if the pharmacy is using a fax machine.

More information

Read the Ministry of Health NZePS get started guide (click 'Setting up and Using NZePS' and found under Downloads')
which provides further information regarding controlled drugs (including methadone prescribing).  

For all support from the Ministry of Health contact (reference NZePS)

For all other questions contact your practice support person, or Michelle Bayley:

Background information - The NZ ePrescription service (NZePS)

NZePS provides a secure messaging channel for prescribing and dispensing systems to exchange prescription information electronically. It enables a prescription to be generated by the prescriber, transmitted to the NZePS health information exchange broker, and downloaded electronically at a community pharmacy.

The prescriber can note the reason for prescribing and make other comments at the time of prescribing. This will be sent as part of the prescription information passed electronically to the pharmacy. Prescribers can request a notification when a patient's medication has not been dispensed, and pharmacists can send dispensing comments back to the prescriber.

Latest Articles