In a new feature for the NHS App, patients will be able to view their EPS prescribed items.
The app will show the items prescribed, the prescription type (repeat or one-off) and who the prescriber is.
NHS England’s Transformation Directorate has been piloting this new feature with four GP practices in a West Yorkshire primary care network. The EPS team also worked with the nearby pharmacies and the Local Pharmaceutical Committee. The pilot started at the end of October 2023, and the results have been positive, supporting a subsequent national rollout for the functionality.
The plan is for the functionality to be rolled out during the rest of the year.
Patients who receive prescriptions from the pilot and early adopter GP sites will be able to see their EPS prescription information in the NHS App before the full national rollout is completed. Most of these patients will have their prescriptions dispensed by a local pharmacy, however, some patients may take their prescriptions to pharmacies elsewhere in England.
As there will not be push notifications from the NHS App to users about EPS prescriptions, the expectation is that most patients will not immediately notice the new functionality.
The presence of EPS barcode numbers within the NHS App may assist pharmacy teams dealing with outlier situations such as Phase 4 prescriptions and prescriptions which have been returned to the Spine by another pharmacy.
Further details on this change
Q: What EPS prescription information will be visible in the NHS App?
EPS prescription information will be visible on the NHS App once the EPS prescription is uploaded to Spine after the prescriber electronically signs it. The patient will be able to see:
items that have been prescribed (name, form and quantity);
the healthcare provider who prescribed the medicines;
the patient’s chosen (nominated) pharmacy, dispensing doctor or dispensing appliance contractor (DAC); and
a prescription barcode plus the prescription ID number (equivalent to the EPS paper token barcode).
Patients will not see the EPS prescription information within the NHS App if the prescription is:
not prescribed via EPS;
an eRD prescription;
post-dated (until the effective date when the prescription becomes available on the Spine to download, at which point it will be visible);
beyond the EPS 180-day limit; or
in an archived state (36 days after the dispensing organisation submits an EPS claim message against the prescription).
Once the new prescription functionality is available to patients, it will be found within the “View and manage prescriptions” section accessible from the NHS App home screen.
Q: What does this functionality mean for my pharmacy?
Pharmacy teams near the initial pilot area are more likely to have patients who can view EPS prescription information within their NHS App. In many cases, patients may not yet be aware of the new functionality.
As the functionality rolls out across England, it may assist patients and their pharmacy in outlier scenarios such as dealing with those Phase 4 non-nominated prescriptions or a nominated EPS prescription that has been returned to the Spine (e.g. due to stock non-availability at a pharmacy). Pharmacy team members can opt to scan the digital barcode or look up the prescription ID within the NHS App to pull down the prescription into the PMR system, reducing the need to spend time using the EPS Tracker.
The introduction of prescription information within NHS App fulfils pharmacy team requests for alternatives to paper EPS tokens.
Q: What does this mean for patients?
NHS England’s user research has shown that offering greater visibility of prescription information will:
offer confirmation and reassurance for patients that a prescription has been issued;
enable patients to manage their medicines and prescription-related queries earlier by providing information on prescribed items; and
enable patients to understand the overall prescription process better.
For patients with non-nominated prescriptions, having a digital prescription barcode in the NHS App could reduce the time needed to collect paper tokens and remove the risk of them losing prescription IDs.
Q. Will patients receive NHS App push notifications about EPS prescriptions?
No, patients will not receive notifications about the digital token. However, if patients find the prescription information within their NHS App, they will also be shown a message that pharmacy teams require time to process prescriptions before they are ready for collection.
Q. What is the patient communications plan?
Following user research by NHS England, patient-facing communications materials will refer to the electronic prescription information within the NHS App as a ‘digital prescription’. Patient feedback was that the term ‘token’ was confusing to them.
For patients participating in the earlier rollouts following the pilot, promotional material will be available at the practice (including its website) and surrounding pharmacies.
Q. How to handle scanning EPS Phase 4 barcodes on patients’ phones.
Pharmacies should ask the patient for permission before handling their device to enable scanning of the EPS barcode (if there is an appropriate scanner on the counter or a wireless scanner). Some patients may prefer that their smartphone not be taken out of their sight.
Q. Could EPS prescription information appear in other apps?
Currently, digital EPS prescription tokens will only appear within the NHS App.
The testing and rollout of this functionality will help inform further work on IT standards for digital token. NHS England anticipates that over time, other app developers aligned to NHS IT standards will be able to offer the same functionality.
Q. Will patients see all prescription item information ‘together’, if they have multiple EPS prescriptions?
Individual EPS prescriptions can include up to four items.
At present, the digital tokens will correspond to individual EPS prescriptions. For example, if five items are prescribed, this will be split into two EPS prescriptions, and patients can view two EPS digital tokens within the NHS App.
Q. Are Electronic Repeat Dispensing digital tokens visible within the NHS App?
If you have any feedback on this new functionality, please visit cpe.org.uk/itfeedback.
The post Patients can now view EPS information within the NHS App appeared first on Community Pharmacy England.