Headlines: August 14th, 2008

The Department for Health has given the go-ahead for implementation of an advanced electronic prescription service. This decision follows extensive evaluation through pilot projects and general acceptance by patients, pharmacists and GPs.

Just under half of the 763 million prescriptions dispensed in 2007 were handled by some degree of technology, usually an electronic message attached to paper prescriptions. The remainder were totally paper transactions. The paper prescriptions were carried by the patient from the GP to the dispenser and then sent on to the reimbursement agency. Both the dispenser and the reimbursement agency had to re-key the prescription details.

The advanced prescription service will give patients the option to select, or ‘nominate’ a pharmacy to which their prescription can be sent automatically. The GP workload will be reduced significantly and the repeat prescription management process will be simplified. Dispensing staff will gain not only from the removal of re-keying work, but they will also be able to streamline workflow by preparing medications in advance and manage stock control more effectively.

The transmission of prescriptions by electronic means was first mentioned in the NHS Plan in 2000 and the first pilot was launched in 2001.