COVID-19 Home Medicines Service

The Home Medicines Service is a temporary program, which aims to support and protect the most vulnerable members of our community from potential exposure to novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Home Medicines Service is a temporary program, which aims to support and protect the most vulnerable members of our community from potential exposure to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) by providing a fee per delivery payable to Australian pharmacies for the home delivery of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) medications thereby removing the need for a patient to visit a Pharmacy. 

Vulnerable people, and those in home isolation, will be able to order their PBS and RPBS prescriptions remotely and have these items delivered to their homes to reduce their potential exposure to COVID-19.

Pharmacy Eligibility

To be eligible to become a Service Provider under this temporary program, a Pharmacy must:

  1. Be approved to dispense pharmaceutical benefits as part of the PBS defined in Section 90 of the National Health Act 1953 (Section 90 Pharmacy).
  2. Agree to ensure that any person delivering medications through this Program abides by the current sanitary and isolation protocols relevant to the containment and management of COVID-19 within the community as issued by each State and Territory.
  3. Be able to support home delivery services.
  4. Register via the PPA Portal (Portal) and continue to meet the above Eligibility Criteria while participating in the Program.

Home Medicines Services must be conducted in accordance with relevant professional practice standards and guidelines, including the following:

A Service Provider must notify the PPA immediately when it becomes aware of any circumstance, event or fact that may affect the Service Provider’s eligibility to participate in the Program, including where their delivery person has breached the sanitary and isolation protocols.

Patient Eligibility

This temporary measure will protect the most vulnerable members of our community and is available to Patients holding a Medicare or Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Card and are:

  • Isolating themselves at home on the advice of a medical practitioner, for confirmed COVID-19 cases; or
  • Meeting the current national triage protocol criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection after consultation with either the national COVID-19 hotline, state COVID-19 hotlines, a registered medical or nursing practitioner or COVID-19 trained health clinic triage staff; or
  • Aged over 70; or
  • Identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and are aged over 50; or
  • People with chronic health conditions or who are immunocompromised; or
  • Parents with new babies or people who are pregnant.

Deliveries claimed through the Home Medicines Service Program cannot be made to individual patients more than once per month.

In the case where there are existing contracts in place for the delivery of medicines to residential aged care facilities, Home Medicines Service deliveries cannot be made to residents of residential aged care facilities.  Otherwise, this service is available to all patients meeting the above eligibility criteria.

Patient Consent

The Service Provider must obtain appropriate written or verbal consent from the Patient or the Patient’s carer prior to providing the Service. A consent form is available online here.

Eligible items

A Home Medicines Service must include at least one of the following eligible items:

  • Any PBS medications requiring a prescription; and
  • Any RPBS medications requiring a prescription.

The Government will provide $25 million to fund home medicines services which will enable patients to have their PBS prescriptions delivered to their home.

Registration

To register as a Service Provider, a Community Pharmacy must register via the PPA’s Portal. Registrations will open from 1 April 2020, noting that services can be provided from 16 March 2020. A user guide to assist you to register is available in the Downloads section of this page.

Claims

Eligible Services

For the purposes of this program, a Home Medicines Service consists of the delivery of one or more Eligible Items to the home of an eligible patient.  Transmission of the prescription to the Service Provider can be through either:

  • Online ordering;
  • Mailed prescriptions;
  • Faxed/emailed prescriptions; or
  • Electronic transfer of prescriptions technology.

This does not preclude the patient from ordering one or more non-Eligible Items to be delivered in the same order.

Deliveries to individual patients cannot be made more than once per month.

Claiming window

Claims must be lodged via the PPA Portal, a user guide to assist you to make claims will shortly be provided in the Downloads section of this page.

Services must be claimed by the end of the following calendar month (e.g. services provided in April must be claimed by 31 May).  Claims submitted outside this time frame will not be paid and cannot be resubmitted.

Data required

The following information must be provided to the Pharmacy Programs Administrator in order to lodge a claim:

  • Consent from the Patient – either in writing or verbally with a declaration by the dispensing pharmacist that they have obtained verbal consent
  • Patient’s Medicare/DVA Card number
  • Which of the eligibility criteria applies to the Patient
  • Date of supply.

All information entered on the Claim must be correct as any inconsistencies will prevent claim submission.

Payments

A fee of $7.77 ex GST is payable by the PPA for provision of each eligible Home Medicines Service.

Service Providers cannot apply any additional Patient charge for a service if it is being claimed through this Program. 

Record Keeping and Auditing

The following information must be retained by the Service Provider for seven years to support any claim for payment made under these Program Rules:

a.    Section 90 number at the time of the provision of the Home Medicines Service;

b.    Identifier of Registered Pharmacist who dispensed the medication(s)
        (e.g. AHPRA registration number);

c.    Identifier of person undertaking the delivery (full name);

d.    How the delivery person complied with the current sanitary and isolation protocols
        relevant to the containment and management of COVID-19 within the community;

e.    Consent from the Patient – either in writing or verbally with a declaration by the
       dispensing pharmacist that they have obtained verbal consent;

f.     Patient’s name and address;

g.    Patient’s Medicare/DVA Card number;

h.    Which of the eligibility criteria in Clause 3.2 applies to this Patient; and

i.     List of all PBS/RPBS prescription medicines delivered to the Patient each time a
       delivery was made.

Service Providers participating in the Program will be subject to audits by the PPA to ensure the Services are provided in accordance with the General Terms and these Program Rules. Eligible Community Pharmacies that do not provide Services in accordance with the General Terms and these Program Rules may no longer be able to participate in the Program or be eligible to receive Program payments, and repayment may be required. Under section 137.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995, giving false and misleading information is a serious offence.

COVID-19 Home Medicine Service FAQ

  1. To protect the Australian community from exposure to novel coronavirus (COVID‑19), the Australian Government is implementing a time limited service to support the delivery of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) medicines products to people in their homes.

    From 16 March 2020, a fee per delivery will be payable to Australian pharmacies providing an eligible medicines home delivery to eligible patients.

    Eligible patients include vulnerable people and people in home isolation with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection.

    This measure supports existing or new home delivery services provided by pharmacies.  It provides funding in recognition of the additional efforts required by pharmacies and delivery personnel adhering to transmission-based precautions to protect the most vulnerable members of the community from exposure to COVID-19.

    This measure also discourages people from stockpiling medications.

  2. The service will be available to:

    1. people isolating themselves at home on the advice of a medical practitioner, for confirmed COVID-19 cases;
    2. people who meet the current national triage protocol criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection after consultation with either the national COVID-19 hotline, state COVID-19 hotlines, a registered medical or nursing practitioner or COVID-19 trained health clinic triage staff;
    3. people aged over 70;
    4. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 50;
    5. people with chronic health conditions or who are immunocompromised;
    6. parents with new babies and people who are pregnant.

    Residents of residential aged care facilities are eligible for this service, except where there is an existing contract in place to support the delivery of PBS medicines to residents in the facility.

    Eligible patients cannot receive more than one delivery per month.

  3. More information about the Program for consumers can be found here.

  4. To qualify for the service fee under the Home Medicines Service each single delivery to an eligible person’s home must include at least one of the following items:

    – A PBS medicine or

    – A RPBS medicine.

    Patients will be able to order one more other items for home delivery from a pharmacy, if these form part of the same order.

  5. Only those home deliveries containing at least one of the items listed above will be eligible under the Home Medicines Service. Products for symptom relief such as over-the-counter pain relief, tissues and hand sanitizers are not included in the Home Medicines Service unless combined in a single delivery with one or more PBS or RPBS medicines.

  6. From Monday 16 March 2020. You will then be able to register and lodge claims from 1 April 2020.  Please ensure you are capturing all required information (as per the Program Rules) during the interim period, so that you can key your claims from 1 April 2020.

  7. Claiming commences from 1 April 2020. You will be able to register your pharmacy and lodge claims from this date.  If you provide any services between 16 March 2020 and 1 April 2020, make sure you capture all required information (as per the Program Rules) during the interim period, so that you can key your claims from 1 April 2020.

  8. No. Access to a delivery fee provided under the Home Medicines Service is solely at the discretion of each pharmacy. The Home Medicines Service is only available to eligible patients, through eligible pharmacies.

  9. A payment will claimable as a flat fee for each eligible medicines delivery made to a person’s home.

    A fee of $7.77 will be claimable for each eligible delivery. You must not charge the patient for the eligible delivery.

    Patients cannot receive more than one claimable delivery per month. Any extra delivery and its associated fee will be subject to your commercial arrangements with the patient.

  10. Subject to stock availability and delivery arrangements, it may be preferable to have home medicines deliveries made to a person’s home within 48 hours of a pharmacy receiving a request by way of a patient’s PBS or RPBS prescription dispense request.

  11. To be eligible to become a Service Provider under the Home Medicines Service, a pharmacy must:

    1. Be approved to dispense pharmaceutical benefits in accord with Section 90 of the National Health Act 1953 (“s90 Pharmacy”);
    2. Have guidelines in place to ensure that any person delivering medications through this program abides by the current sanitary and isolation protocols relevant to the containment and management of COVID-19 within the community;
    3. Be able to support home delivery services;
    4. Register via the Pharmacy Programs Administrator (PPA) Portal (Portal) and continue to meet the above Eligibility Criteria while participating in the Home Medicines Service.
  12. Program resources are available from the Downloads section of this webpage.

  13. The Australian Government Department of Health has produced a number of guidances in relation to managing exposure to COVID-19.

    These include a guidance on home isolation when unwell (suspected or confirmed cases including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE): www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-information-about-home-isolation-when-unwell-suspected-or-confirmed-cases

    Note that this information is based on current evidence and containment measures and may be subject to change as more information becomes available.

    For the most up to date information on the Australian situation and relevant guidelines please refer to the Australian Government Department of Health COVID‑19 resources web page at: www.health.gov.au/resources/collections/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-resources

    In addition to guidelines published by the Department of Health, state and territory governments may impose specific requirements for personnel providing services to at-risk patients. It is the responsibility of any pharmacy participating in the Home Medicines Service to meet such requirements.

  14. As part of its $2.4 billion health package to protect the Australian community from exposure to COVID-19, the Australian Government is implementing a time‑limited service to support the delivery of PBS and RPBS medicines to people in their homes.

    From 16 March 2020, $25 million will be provided over six months by way of a fee per delivery, payable to Australian pharmacies providing an eligible medicines home delivery to eligible patients.

  15. Home Medicines Services must be conducted in accordance with relevant professional practice standards and guidelines, including the following:

    – PSA’s Professional Practice Standards,
        Standard 3: Dispensing and Other Supply Arrangements

    –  PSA’s Dispensing Practice Guidelines,
        section on Indirect dispensing.

  16. You will need to keep an electronic or hard copy note stating that you read the information on the written patient consent form to the patient and obtained their verbal consent. The written patient consent form is available from the downloads section below.  

  17. Yes. They are considered to be eligible under the following criteria:

    – Meeting the current national triage protocol criteria
       for suspected COVID-19 infection after consultation
       with either the national COVID-19 hotline, state
       COVID-19 hotlines, a registered medical or nursing
       practitioner or COVID-19 trained health clinic triage
       staff.

  18. It is up to your pharmacy to choose what works best for you. You may have a staff member who does the deliveries to patients for your store. Alternatively, you may use a third-party delivery provider, or a combination of these approaches.

    Some third-party delivery providers offering a specific Home Medicines Service option are: 

    – Australia Post – www.auspost.com.au/pharmacy 

    – MedAdvisor (Kings Transport) – http://start.medadvisor.com.au/pharmacy/  

    Please note if third-party delivery providers are used you should ensure they are also following current sanitary and isolation protocols. This could be confirmed by checking their website or via a phone call to the company.