Electronic Prescription Service. Guidance for community pharmacy contractors on implementing Release 1

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1 Electronic Prescription Service The Electronic Prescription Service Guidance for community pharmacy contractors on implementing Release 1

2 Contents With about 1.3 million prescriptions now being issued every working day in England and this figure expected to rise by over 5% each year we need to change from a paper-based prescription system to an electronic one which is more efficient. The Electronic Prescription Service will be introduced throughout England by the end of 2007, with the changes already underway. It will enable electronic prescriptions to be generated, transmitted, received and, once dispensed, sent to the reimbursement agency. It will also allow patients to nominate specific dispensers should they wish to. Eventually, most paper prescriptions will be replaced by electronic ones, bringing improvements in service, convenience and accuracy. Introduction Page 2 Ordering your Electronic Prescription Service compliant system Page 3 Arranging suitable network connectivity Page 4 Obtaining smartcards for pharmacists Page 5 Installing local hardware and software Page 6 Training and communication Page 6 Going live with the service Page 7 Funding for implementation Page 7 Frequently asked questions Page 8 For more detailed and fully up-to-date information please visit The Electronic Prescription Service is part of NHS Connecting for Health s (NHS CFH) Electronic Transmission of Prescriptions (ETP) programme, which also includes integrating the Electronic Prescription Service with the NHS Care Records Service. 1

3 Introduction Ordering your Electronic Prescription Service compliant system The Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) will be an essential service under the new contractual framework for community pharmacy agreed between the Department of Health, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and the NHS Confederation. In order to implement the Electronic Prescription Service in your pharmacy, there are a number of activities you must undertake to upgrade your system to become EPS compatible and to ensure your staff are trained to operate it. This guide outlines what you need to do to implement Release 1 of the Electronic Prescription Service and what other sources of information are available to you for further guidance. The sequence in which activities are undertaken will vary depending upon individual circumstances. Your system supplier (or head office where applicable) will advise you on the likely order of these activities. These activities will include: ordering your Electronic Prescription Service compliant system arranging suitable network connectivity obtaining smartcards for pharmacists installing hardware and software training and communication going live. At the end of this guide are some frequently asked questions that will help to address some of the queries you may have about the introduction of the Electronic Prescription Service in your pharmacy. You can also check the Electronic Prescription Service website ( for other frequently asked questions which will be updated on a regular basis. Pharmacy system suppliers have been upgrading their current dispensing systems to make them EPS compliant. Following a period of development, each pharmacy system supplier goes through a process of testing which is followed by a trial at an initial implementer site. When the supplier s system has been shown to be of the necessary standard (clinically and technically), the supplier is permitted to start a wider rollout which will be monitored by NHS Connecting for Health (NHS CFH). You will need to decide which pharmacy system supplier you will use to deliver your EPS compliant system. In the first instance, we recommend that you speak to your current supplier to see what solution they can offer your pharmacy, taking into account future developments for Release 2 of the Electronic Prescription Service. There are a number of approved system suppliers to choose from, with some offering an overall service including software, a suitable network connection and end-user training and support. A list of suppliers, along with their compliance status and contact details is available to view on the Electronic Prescription service website ( Your pharmacy system supplier may need to conduct a site audit. Should this be required, the main aims of this audit are to: assess the changes required to ensure the site meets the minimum hardware specification confirm the operating systems and software already installed on site ensure there is adequate provision of network cabling and power sockets to support the required infrastructure agree the location of new hardware such as barcode scanners and smartcard readers with the pharmacy staff. Once this audit has been undertaken, your system supplier is likely to have all the necessary details to begin planning for the installation of hardware and software at your pharmacy. 2 3

4 Arranging suitable network connectivity Obtaining smartcards for pharmacists All pharmacies will need a suitable network connection to enable them to use the Electronic Prescription Service. The network connection will allow the pharmacy to send and receive electronic prescription messages. To ensure that the connection is secure, the network connection must be of a type approved by NHS Connecting for Health. All connectivity is based around N3, the new national network for the NHS. The type of connection needed will vary depending on the requirements of a particular pharmacy. In order to cater for as wide a range of usage scenarios as possible, a number of connectivity options are available to pharmacy contractors which are detailed below. There are two types of connections you can opt for: indirect or direct. Indirect connections Commercial network providers who have an NHS CFH approved N3 connection are able to offer pharmacy contractors suitable connectivity. There are various options and models for purchasing an indirect connection. Option 1 Connection as part of a system supplier package Some pharmacy system suppliers will offer all in one packages of system upgrades and connectivity (in partnership with commercial network providers). This will give their customers an overall solution for enabling the Electronic Prescription Service. This is likely to be the appropriate option for most small chain or independent contractors but may also be applicable to pharmacies with existing corporate networks. Option 2 Connection via a commercial network provider Pharmacy contractors may enter into a contractual arrangement with an approved commercial network provider to purchase an indirect connection independently of their pharmacy system upgrade. This may be an appropriate route for independent contractors who are unable to purchase all in one packages from their system suppliers as well as for chains with existing corporate networks. A list of commercial network providers will shortly be made available on the Electronic Prescription Service website. Direct connections A direct connection to N3 is possible but is not likely to be the most effective option for independent contractors or small chains. However, it may be an appropriate option for large pharmacy chains with corporate networks. Contractors who wish to pursue this option will need to be sponsored, in most cases by their PCT, in order to purchase a connection. Initially, it is recommended that you speak to your pharmacy system supplier about connectivity options. System suppliers will be able to offer advice about the suitability of particular connections in relation to the systems they provide. A list of N3 Internet Service Providers, along with their connection status is available to view at Once you have selected an option, your pharmacy system supplier or network provider will arrange for your network connection to be installed and configured. In order to ensure that only authorised personnel are able to access the Electronic Prescription Service, smartcards will be issued to all community pharmacists (including locums). This smartcard will enable all dispensing staff to access and operate the Electronic Prescription Service within the pharmacy under the jurisdiction of the pharmacist to whom it has been issued. The PCT within which your pharmacy is located is responsible for providing smartcards. Locum pharmacists may be registered at the PCT where they live, or at a PCT within which they regularly work. The smartcard will be able to be used within any community pharmacy in England. Pharmacists will therefore need to contact their PCT Registration Authority to arrange registration and the issue of smartcards. A face to face meeting, proof of identity and a completed registration form will be required by all community pharmacists applying for a smartcard. There is also a set of associated conditions with which you must agree to comply. 4 5

5 Installing local hardware and software Training and communication Going live with the service Funding for implementation Following the site audit (if one is necessary), your system supplier will be in a position to undertake any necessary hardware and software upgrades. In terms of hardware installation, your system supplier will provide and set up a smartcard reader and a barcode scanner. Software will also be installed to enable you to use your smartcards. The system supplier will install the software for operating the Electronic Prescription Service following their own system specific implementation process. Checks will be made at each stage of hardware or software implementation by the system supplier to ensure your system is operating correctly. You need to arrange a convenient time with your system supplier for them to undertake the necessary upgrades. Your system supplier will be able to deliver training on the use of the new system. An explanatory leaflet entitled The Electronic Prescription Service a guide for healthcare professionals has been produced to assist with staff briefing prior to the commencement of training. This leaflet provides a general overview of the service and will help pharmacy staff address any queries posed by patients. A poster is also available to display in staff areas of the pharmacy, along with a poster and leaflet for patients seeking further information on the Electronic Prescription Service. You need to arrange a suitable time with your pharmacy system supplier for them to provide training. Communication materials are available to order from Once the above steps have been completed, you are ready to start using the Electronic Prescription Service. As more GP practices in your area become EPS enabled, you will start to receive more prescriptions with the barcode on them. You can retrieve the prescription details into your pharmacy system by scanning the barcode on the FP10. There is no requirement to coordinate your pharmacy s go live with local GP practices as you can still process FP10 prescription forms which do not have barcodes in the usual way. Under the terms of the new contractual framework for community pharmacy, payments will be made to pharmacy contractors to offset the costs of the hardware and software upgrades and network connectivity needed to operate the Electronic Prescription Service. The first payments are linked to a pharmacy becoming operational with Release 1 of the service. There will be further payment linked to becoming operational with Release 2. In addition there are ongoing monthly payments to support maintenance and connectivity costs. Details of all these payments can be found in the current Drug Tariff and claim forms for claiming the monthly payments can be accessed at 6 7

6 Frequently asked questions What changes will Release 1 bring to the dispensing process in my pharmacy? When a prescription is issued to a patient by a GP practice that is EPS Release 1 enabled, the main difference at this stage is that the FP10 prescription form will have a barcode printed on it. Once Release 1 is live in your pharmacy, you will have the capability to scan this barcode to retrieve details of the prescription rather than having to re-type it as at present. You may want to consider opportunities for improving your pharmacy workflow as you introduce the scanning of prescriptions. The training provided by your system supplier will cover this process in more detail. How long will it take to implement the Electronic Prescription Service in my pharmacy? The implementation of the Electronic Prescription Service has been developed to cause as little disruption to your pharmacy as possible. The time it takes for your pharmacy to go live will vary you should discuss this with your system supplier. Once operating the service, can I still process FP10 forms without a barcode? Once the Electronic Prescription Service is live in your pharmacy, it may be that local GP practices are still waiting to implement it on their systems. This will mean they are unable to issue barcoded FP10 forms to their patients, and will therefore still be issuing standard FP10 forms. If a patient brings a standard FP10 form to your pharmacy, you can process it in the usual way by entering the information manually. Are there any communication materials available for me to distribute to patients and staff? A range of communication materials are available to order from including leaflets and posters aimed at patients and healthcare professionals. When will I find out about implementing Release 2? A further guide for pharmacy contractors on how to implement Release 2 of the Electronic Prescription Service will be distributed prior to national deployment. The Electronic Prescription Service website includes a wide range of up-to-date information and materials including many other frequently asked questions. 8

7 To request further copies of this leaflet please visit or call quoting item reference number Crown Copyright, February 2006 Electronic Prescription Service

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