Electronic Prescription Service saves NHS £130 million over three years

The transformative electronic prescription service (EPS) has managed to save the NHS £130 million over three years | NHS Digital

By allowing GP surgeries to send prescriptions directly to pharmacies, the EPS system, which has been developed by NHS Digital, has helped to save patients time and money when collecting their medications.

An audit of patients using the system found that 72 per cent said their medicines were ready and waiting for them when they arrived at their pharmacy, with the average prescription collection around 20 minutes quicker under the EPS system.

Over the past three years the system has saved patients almost £75 million and has meant patients need to make fewer return trips to pharmacies as a result of their medications being out of stock.

The time savings that EPS offers the average GP practice, allows staff to have more time to care for patients, particularly during the winter months when there is more demand for their services.

Additionally with more people falling ill over the winter period, EPS can help patients get their medication quickly and reduce the need for pharmacists to ring the GP about prescription queries.

The biggest savings were recorded by prescribers who saved around £327 million between 2013 and 2016, while dispensers saved nearly £60 million.

GP practices on average also saved an hour and 20 minutes each day by signing electronic repeat prescriptions compared to paper versions and an average of an hour and 13 minute a day by producing electronic repeat prescriptions compared to paper ones.

Other time savings for prescribers include:

  • Practices save an average of 43 minutes per day by not having to locate paper prescriptions within the practice.
  • Practices save an average of 31 minutes every day by not having to re-print lost paper prescriptions.
  • Practice staff save an average of 39 minutes every day by not having to wait for GPs to sign urgent paper prescriptions.
  • Practices save an average of 27 minutes every day by cancelling prescriptions electronically versus paper.

Full story at NHS Digital

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CCG medicines optimisation service


The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has published a case study on Bath and North East Somerset CCG medicines optimisation service.   

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To reduce excessive prescribing BANES CCG commissioned community pharmacy to actively review their patients medication and to look for opportunities to optimise their care. The community pharmacists identified items to either not dispense or optimise and then worked with the CCG employed practice support pharmacists to make the changes permanent on a patient’s record.

In the first eight weeks of the service (18th May 2017 – 12 July 2017) the five initial pilot pharmacies have identified £15,421 of annualised savings of which £9,396 have been actioned by the surgery, with £2,498 rejected and £3,528 awaiting resolution in the surgery. Currently 120 medicines optimisation opportunities have been identified by the community pharmacies with 69 being actioned by the CCG pharmacists.

The average annual saving per actioned suggestion is £136 (£9,396 / 69).  The £30 professional fee is only paid to the community pharmacist once the change has been actioned by the surgery. The 69 approved changes resulted in £2,070 being paid in a professional fee, which represents a return on investment of 1 : 4.5 (£2,070 : £9,396). In year two, the CCG will continue to gain the benefits of these savings with no additional professional fee.

Full case study: Bath and NE Somerset CCG Medicines Optimisation Service

IT intervention to support medicine optimisation in primary care

Jeffries, M. et al. (2017) Understanding the implementation and adoption of an information technology intervention to support medicine optimisation in primary care: qualitative study using strong structuration theory. BMJ Open. 7:e014810

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Objectives: Using strong structuration theory, we aimed to understand the adoption and implementation of an electronic clinical audit and feedback tool to support medicine optimisation for patients in primary care.

Conclusions: Successful implementation of information technology interventions for medicine optimisation will depend on a combination of the infrastructure within primary care, social structures embedded in the technology and the conventions, norms and dispositions of those utilising it. Future interventions, using electronic audit and feedback tools to improve medication safety, should consider the complexity of the social and organisational contexts and how internal and external structures can affect the use of the technology in order to support effective implementation.

Read the full article here

New innovation scorecard platform launched

The improved platform aims to make it easier to see uptake of pharmaceutical products and medical innovations within the NHS | NHS Efficiency 

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Image source: Julie Rybarczyk – Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The scorecard reports on the use of medicines and medical technologies in the NHS in England, specifically those which have been positively appraised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) since 2012.

The site now provides greater transparency and is easier to use.

Users can now:

  • compare commissioning organisations’ uptake of medicines
  • view information without having to download data
  • share results more easily and securely
  • look at overall levels of prescribing by medicine

The Innovation Scorecard is part of the government’s broader goal of supporting open data and transparency.

Read the full overview here

The Innovation Scoreboard is available through NHS Digital here

Nurses and pharmacists can prescribe as effectively as doctors

Weeks G, George J, Maclure K, Stewart D. Non-medical prescribing versus medical prescribing for acute and chronic disease management in primary and secondary care. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;(11):CD011227

Prescribing by suitably-trained pharmacists and nurses offers similar outcomes to prescribing by doctors, at least in the management of chronic conditions.

This Cochrane review pooled clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction across 45 studies of nurse or pharmacist prescribing compared with doctor prescribing.

Most studies were of chronic disease management in primary care settings in high income countries (25 from the US and six from the UK).

Independent and supplementary prescribers in the NHS include not only the nurses and pharmacists, as covered in this review, but also other professions such as podiatrists, optometrists, and physiotherapists. At a time of high demand for NHS resources, with shortages of doctors in some specialties, prescribing by other professionals may help ease the workload, but safety, time and costs of training need to be considered.

Long term conditions and prescription charges

The Prescription Charges Coalition has launched a new survey looking at the ways in which prescription charges affect the lives of people in England with long-term conditions.

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At the moment, people with long term conditions in England who work have to pay for their medicines, because the list of illnesses that qualify for free prescriptions is limited and out of date.  The prescription charges coalition is campaigning for all people with long-term conditions to receive free prescriptions.

Find out more about the campaign, at the Prescription Charges Coalition website.

New tool developed to help avoid adverse drug reactions

Researchers have developed a new tool to help avoid adverse reactions to medicines | ScienceDaily

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Previous research at Alder Hey found that three out of every 100 children admitted to hospital experience an ADR due to a medicine taken at home. 22% of these ADRs might have been avoidable. Examples of ADRs which were avoidable included: diarrhea with antibiotics, and constipation with medicines given to relieve pain and vomiting related to chemotherapy.

The team also found that around 1 in 6 children experienced at least one ADR whilst in hospital, which is similar to findings in adults. More than half of the ADRs seen in children in hospital were due to medicines used in general anaesthesia and for the treatment of pain after surgery.

Most of the ADRs were not severe and resolved soon after the medicine was stopped. The five most common ADRs seen were nausea and/or vomiting, itching, constipation, diarrhea and sleepiness.

Read the full overview here

Read the original research abstract here