The Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) enables prescriptions to be sent electronically from a GP practice to a dispenser/pharmacy of the patient’s choice. This innovative service enables a more productive and convenient method of prescribing and dispensing for both patients and staff.
Prescribers can process prescriptions efficiently and spend less time dealing with queries, dispensers can reduce the use of paper, improve stock control and provide a more productive service to patients, whilst patients can collect repeat prescription from a pharmacy without visiting their GP. All round, the EPS is an effective offering.
Previously, it was only possible to issue an EPS prescription where the patient had actually nominated a pharmacy or alternative dispenser. Therefore, it is proven that the EPS had been most advantageous for patients who received regular medication and who tend to get their prescriptions dispensed at the same pharmacy each time.
However, under Phase 4 of EPS, prescriptions are now sent via EPS by default, whether a patient has an EPS nomination in place or not. Patients without an EPS nomination will be given a token, otherwise known as a paper copy of a prescription, to present at a community pharmacy or Dispensing Appliance Contractor (DAC) to obtain their medication. This token will contain a unique barcode which can be scanned at any community pharmacy or DAC in England to download the prescription from the NHS Spine and retrieve the medication details.
All four GP system suppliers have developed Phase 4 functionality and a phased roll out at GP practices in England has started, as of 18th November 2019.
What does this mean for Pharmacies?
All dispensers need to be aware that they could soon receive an EPS Phase 4 token from a patient. Although the sites will initially be in specific areas, patients can choose to take their token to any pharmacy in England. If a pharmacy receive a Phase 4 token, they should scan the barcode and dispense it in the same way as any other electronic prescription.
The fully phased roll out will build over the coming months and EPS Phase 4 will soon be made available to all GP practices.
The benefits of the EPS Phase 4:
Almost all prescriptions will be processed and signed electronically - in most cases, over 95% of your prescriptions will be processed this way and only a small proportion will be hand-signed
One main process for prescriptions will lead to a more efficient, faster and secure service
If a patient without a nomination loses their token, it can be easily reprinted - there is no need to re-issue the electronic prescription
End-of-month processing will be quicker due to fewer paper prescriptions
The risk of dispensing duplicate prescriptions will reduce as electronic prescriptions can’t be lost
It will be possible to track more prescriptions on the EPS Prescription Tracker
*Paper prescriptions will continue to be available in special circumstances, but almost all prescriptions will be processed electronically
Overall, the Electronic Prescription Service is proving to be a success. The Phase 4 pilot indicated that the new functionality can increase the proportion of prescriptions sent electronically to above 95%, increasing productivity within pharmacies, greatly.