Jamaica’s Department of Health and Welfare said obtaining a prescription would no longer require a doctor’s visit as the document can now be transmitted electronically.
However, this can only be done with the patient’s consent and must comply with the regulations of the Data Protection Act to guarantee the security of sensitive information.
The department announced the decision on Friday, saying it had sought advice from the Attorney General’s Office (AGC) on the matter. According to the AGC, communicating medication prescriptions electronically is permitted in Jamaica under Regulation 20 of the Pharmacy Regulations because medication data is a very sensitive type of personal data.
“Additionally, government agencies should be able to review and verify the system’s promises of privacy, data protection, cyber risk, and encryption.” If previous proposals exist, they should be accepted,” the ministry stressed.
He said patient consent must be in writing and must represent agreement to participate in any program and that their data is shared electronically with other medical experts. These consent forms should be easily verifiable.
According to the ministry, the patient’s freedom to choose the service should be preserved, while partially filled prescriptions should be available for dispensing the remaining quantity by the same pharmacy or by another pharmacy of the patient’s choice, which may or may not be a member of the network.
“Given the availability of both physical and digital versions, the system should be able to prevent double dispensing of medication, and checks and balances should be in place to prevent this,” he said.
In the meantime, the ministry has announced the formation of a small internal team to coordinate current and emerging challenges related to the electronic transmission of prescriptions.