News: UK Set For Nationwide Roll-Out of Electronic Prescription Service

01 Nov

The Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) has been going on in the UK at phases and November 2019 saw the implementation of the system on a nationwide level.

The UK is set to roll out electronic prescriptions across the nation which means that all prescriptions by GPs are going to be issued through digital platforms. The roll-out of Phase 4 of the EPS program is scheduled to begin on 18 November 2019 with practices that are using TPP SystmOne and thereafter proceed into other system suppliers next year. The eSignature healthcare needs are addressed with the use of the EPS where documents or prescriptions can be digitally signed.

The Birth of Electronic Prescription Service (EPS)

The electronic transmission of prescriptions has replaced the traditional ways of communication between doctors and patients. In the past, various NHS systems within England’s communication in support of patients’ access to medicines, pharmacist reimbursement, and devices had been pegged on paper forms or paper-based prescriptions passed from the GPs to the patient. The patient would physically carry the paper prescriptions to a dispensary, usually a street pharmacy.

The paper forms prescriptions would be used in the pharmacy to manage the prescription dispensing process including selecting stock as well as preparing labels. It would also be possible for the patient to sign the form claiming some of the exceptions which would mean the patient makes no payments for the medicines. Thereafter, the paper forms that have been used at the pharmacy levels to help with different dispensing processes would then be bundled up to be shipped physically to the NHS reimbursement centers in which the pharmacy would be paid. When you look at this process, it is cumbersome and exposed to so many loopholes.

EPS makes a huge step in electronic signature solutions for healthcare. Use of electronic transmission of prescriptions helps to do away with the challenges inherent in the traditional way of prescribing and dispending medicines. EPS needs to reflect a number of ways in which the prescriptions are produced as well as processed. The electronic prescription service is intended to digitize, streamline, and improve the dispensing process.

In the paper-based dispending environment a prescriber or GP may send the prescription directly to the dispensary or dispensing unit rather than giving it to the patient to send it to the pharmacy. It would be an issue when the patient requests a previous prescription by phone while the dispensing unit or pharmacist directly picks up the prescription by arrangement. To help do away with a double prescription and probably double dispensing of medicines at the pharmacy, the EPS would be used to make every process digital and be able to capture the details in the right way without the risks of repeat dispensing, loss of paper forms, or even making human errors.

Electronic prescription service provides for digital prescription transmission between the prescribers such as doctors and nurses and dispensers such as pharmacy units and dispending appliance contractors. It would also be used to help in digitizing the reimbursement by the NHS to pharmacies and appliance dispensing contractors. The function of electronic prescription service is to bring a change in how prescription messages within the primary care are communicated. This means that EPS would move a big part of the communication from printed paper to highly secure digital formats including the use of legally valid digital signatures. The end result of the EPS implementation would be the creation of a clinically superior, highly efficient, and more safer way for patients to get the medicines they need. It would eliminate the problems that have been inherent in the traditional dispensing process. With EPS, it ensures that sign in forms for doctors office is done using digital signatures to ensure efficiency, accuracy, and reliability of the data or information contained in the forms.

From Standard Digitization to Full Digitisation of EPS

Although some of the processes in medicine dispensing where already digitized, they lacked a comprehensive platform that would prevent use of printed prescriptions. The standard technology used in the pharmacies and by doctors did not cover all areas of dispensing in the right way. For example, many primary care prescriptions would be computer-generated, however, they are then printed to be given to the patient in order to take them to the dispensing unit. Again, the dispensers had local computer systems that they used to coordinate the dispensing process of medicines and ensure the control of stock while also being able to hold and store customer information.

With EPS, the paper printed prescriptions that had to be taken to the dispensing units by the patients, or on arrangements are eliminated and the use of digital messages is implemented. Electronic prescriptions (EPs) have digital signatures and they remain as digital messages all the time. EPs can be transmitted efficiently and directly between the prescribers and dispensers through computer systems over very secure digital networks. When dispensed, EPS allows the prescriptions to be digitally endorsed by dispensers and transmitted to the NHS Prescription Services to allow for speed automated reimbursement.

Under the new dispending system, EPS ensures that patients with already nominated pharmacies are going to continue having their prescriptions sent through the electronic means. On the other hand, those patients who may not have nominated pharmacies are going to receive their prescription in paper copy but that prescription will have a barcode to allow the pharmacy staff to scan it and download the electronic prescription found in the NHS Spine. It is estimated that the implementation of EPS is going to save the NHS over £300 million by 2021.

The electronically done dispensing will increase efficiencies, reduce a lot of paper processing that is needed to dispense medicines, and reduce prescribing errors.

Conclusion

According to the Jo Churchill, the Primary Care Minister, digitizing the prescription service in entirety is considered a key part of ensuring the NHS becomes fit to meet the technology needs witnessed in the 21 st century. EPS would free up important time for the GPs while also allowing pharmacists to have more time to spend with patients. It also saves millions of pounds every year.

Safety would also be promoted in dispensing medicines because there would be accurate dispensing and labelling of the drugs as well as easy access by patients. Use of EPS can also provide live streaming of real-time data which is related to prescribing medicines. The process of prescribing medicines is considered the single most costly and important clinical intervention in the UK’s health service. Using EPS will give a big boost to this process. The data would be used in service management, research, audit, and in enhancing supply chain logistics. eSignature solutions for health care documents not only reduce costs but also enhance efficiency in the provision of healthcare services.

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