Software Vendor Meeting - 11 June 2013

PharmCIS has now been implemented and Software Vendors were invited to a forum to discuss the related technical implications.

The meeting was held on Tuesday 11 June 2013 at the Holiday Inn, Sydney Airport.


  1. Introduction, Welcome, set-up
  2. Closure of PharmBiz project
  3. Review action items
  4. PharmCIS Go-Live
  5. Late Changes
  6. 5 Digit Item Codes
  7. Text Extracts
  8. New Measures
    1. Continued Dispensing
    2. Medication Charts
  9. Future Development
  10. Brand Substitution Audit
  11. Developer assistance
  12. Other Business



Agenda Items For Discussion

Agenda Item 1 - Introduction, Welcome, set-up

  • The forum’s purpose is to advise software vendors and other external stakeholders of the current information available and processes for PharmCIS and also the direction that the system is heading.

Agenda Item 2 - Transition out of PharmBiz

  • The PharmBIZ project is now closed and PharmCIS transitions into Business As Usual (BAU) phase. As PharmBIZ finishes as a project, the PharmBIZ team no longer exists. Under the Business As Usual arrangements, a DoHA PharmCIS support team has been established to assist with the support requirements.
  • Under the new change support arrangements, a single contact point has been established to manage queries and requests from internal and external stakeholders. Stakeholders are to direct their concerns to the DoHA managed email at, where the support team can appropriately forward the issue to the correct area to resolve. Phone queries to be directed to the Application Director of PharmCIS, Sangeeta Chopra, (02) 6289 4267.
  • The DoHA Publishing Information Management Section (PIMS) continues to manage all schedules and artefacts produced by PharmCIS.

Agenda Item 3 - Review action items

  • The action items from the previous Software Vendor Forum were discussed and resolved:
  1. PharmBiz is to document current work around solution for MPUU identifiers.
    MPUU identifiers are documented in the PBS XML documentation suite available on the PBS Developers website.
  2. PharmBiz to design how schema should operate and analyse what can be done to populate data, unit-of-use: MPUU and TPUU.
    MPUU and TPUU are populated in the production PBS XML.
  3. PharmBiz is to consider transition arrangements and how to support PBS XML v1.8 schema post PharmCIS production.
    DoHA unable to support the PBS XML v1.8 schema. The current version of the PBS XML is v2.8.
  4. PharmBiz to look at the AMT work around in terms of the Chemotherapy measure work around.
    Chemotherapy is fully integrated into the production PBS XML.
  5. PharmBiz is to advise if there will be style sheets for two new upcoming measures: Medication Chart and Continued Dispensing.
    At the time of the meeting it was advised that style sheets were not planned to be provided. Subsequently from the forum and further internal meetings, DoHA decided that any text files that have been published in the past must be able to be reproduced using an XSL style sheet. DoHA will include the two XSL style sheets, to be released with the August schedule.

Agenda Item 4 - PharmCIS Go-Live

  • PharmCIS has been in production since September 2012. Currently the system produces PBS XML documents.
  • The PBS XML data is currently released as v2.8 in production. It has been designed to work as a single integrated XML document. Pdf’s, website and text extracts are all generated from the XML document.
  • Discussion of item description anomalies. Discrepancies between ARTG, AMT and PBS terms make it difficult for vendors to maintain consistency in their systems. DoHA made it clear that it too is a consumer of the AMT and not the owner. Discussions will be organised between DoHA, Department of Human Services (DHS) and the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA). However all AMT enquiries are to be directed to NEHTA.
  • Advice was sought from vendors to provide clarity on how they use start dates. A proposal was presented on the interpretation of start dates within PharmCIS and how they could be used. The proposal was accepted by the forum members.
  • Post discussion feedback sought from vendors if they have any issues with start dates.

Agenda Item 5 - PBS Number/ 5 Digit Item Codes

  • The count down for allocating 4 digit item Codes within PharmCIS is nearing exhaustion. Introduction of 5 digit codes is projected for the October 2013 schedule.

Agenda Item 6 - Late Changes

  • Changes to the PBS schedule after the start of the embargo period are identified as late changes. There are two types of late changes which were discussed:
  1. Under Embargo - changes to the PBS schedule after the start of the embargo period but before the effective date. (Prospective)
  2. Post-Effective - changes to the PBS schedule after the effective date. (Retrospective)
  • The changes are either Erratum’s, changes to existing information, or Addendum’s, addition of new information. The changes are posted to the website and notification is sent to the subscribing list.
  • New version of the PBS XML with the incorporated changes will be posted to the website. New version has version number incremented however it will have the same effective date.
  • The Delta contains all changes from previous effective data. Changes in previous version must be reversed.
  • The Summary of Changes for next month will not include late changes.
  • The process for Post Effective (retrospective) late changes is currently not well defined.
  • It was acknowledged that predominantly late changes are business/ government direction decisions.

Agenda Item 7 - Text Extracts

  • The Legacy system no longer produces text extracts, these are now generated using XSL style sheets from PBS XML. XSL style sheets are now separate from the PBS XML Schema package. XSL style sheets now provided in ‘PBS Software’ package, available for download from
  • Text files are not suitable for loading data due to restriction text; subscripts; non-ASCII characters. However the information is useful for human analysis.
  • Text files are an old construct. Vendors have been advised that text files will no longer be produced after 31 December 2013. Vendors wishing to continue to use text files have the ability to develop and modify their own text files based on the open source code that DoHA will make available.
  • PDF’s will continue to be published. HTML may be published during the Embargo period.
  • DoHA proposed releasing PBS Software Package as open source by December 31, 2013. This was accepted by the forum members.

Agenda Item 8 - Proposed Changes

  • Currently Continued Dispensing is already included in the PBS XML Schema v2.8. Data will be included in the XML starting from the August 2013 schedule.
  • The proposed change for Medication Charts is to be included as a part of the PBS XML Schema v2.9, to be released November 2013. A change request to PharmCIS has been raised, scheduled for testing in October 2013 and will be released in production by December 2013.
  • Test data is available for Medication Chart changes which is included in the draft version 2.9 XML schema package.
  • In the PBS XML Schema, Medication Charts will be added as a child element of a prescribing rule. New values will be added to the controlled vocabularies that appear in the RDF section. These are similar to Safety Net default values.
  • The Legal Instrument PBS XML is currently produced separately to the public version of the PBS Schedule, also known as the internal layer that DoHA uses for publishing. Future development will involve merging the internal layer into the public layer.
  • Two options for future development were presented to the forum members:
  1. Minimal – Use existing DoHA internal PBS XML
  2. Comprehensive – Merge DoHA’s internal XML with public PBS XML
  • Forum members accepted the minimal changes to use the existing DoHA internal PBS XML.

Agenda Item 9 - Future Development

  • Discussed problems and challenges confronting the software vendors:
  1. Size of the PBS XML
  2. Resolving hyperlinks
  3. Timeliness of data release
  • DoHA is taking these issues into account and will undertake a review.
  • DoHA will adhere to the late change control policy and provide a 6-9 month lead time before making changes to the schema, whenever possible.

Agenda Item 10 - Brand Substitution Audit

  • Discussed the possibility of audits of dispensing software for compliance to brand substitution rules.

Agenda Item 11 - Developer Assistance

  • DoHA continues to encourage all vendors to move to processing the PBS XML directly.
  • As PharmCIS implementation is now complete, developer assistance can be found on the online forum at Documentation of the Schema software is available from the website as well.
  • Developers can use the online forum to request any additional information. Workshops and tutorials may be provided if desired or found necessary.

Agenda Item 12 - Meeting Close

Summary of decisions made from this meeting:

  • The proposal of the interpretation of start dates within PharmCIS was accepted by the forum members.
  • The proposal of releasing PBS Software Package as an open source by December 31, 2013 was accepted by the forum members.
  • The proposal of either minimal or comprehensive changes to the Legislative Instrument XML. Forum members accepted the minimal changes to use the existing DoHA internal XML.

Summary of action items from this meeting

Meeting: 21 May 2013