District health boards say they are well on the way to eventually being able to swap manual medicine records in hospitals for electronic ones.
Four boards are involved in pilot projects for the introduction of electronic methods for prescribing and managing medicines, designed to lead to a national rollout in 2014.
The boards involved are the Southern, Taranaki, Counties Manukau and Waitemata DHBs.
The National Health IT Board says just 2% of hospitals worldwide have an electronic medicines system but says the it will make patient care safer and easier.
The Southern DHB says special dispensation was needed from the head of the Health Ministry to enable the work to go ahead, because the Medicines Act favours handwritten letters over electronic prescribing.