Boots tests e-prescription technology

Case study: Is this the end of doctors' handwriting?
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

Case study: Is this the end of doctors' handwriting?

Pharmacists won't have to try to decode doctors' handwriting for too much longer - Boots the Chemist will soon start testing systems that will in the future allow it to dispense electronic prescriptions.The move to electronic prescriptions is part of the £6.2bn NHS IT modernisation programme. Thousands of people every year have adverse reactions to drugs because of incorrectly inputted medical data, and the NHS hopes cutting paper out of the system could help reduce this figure.

In phase one of the new Electronic Prescriptions Service (EPS), the doctor will issue a patient with a paper prescription with a barcode printed on it, and in parallel an e-prescription is issued to the NHS data Spine.

The patient presents the barcoded prescription at their pharmacy which then scans it, to pull down the prescription down from The Spine, and processes it.

Release two of EPS starts to take paper out of the process by allowing patients to nominate a pharmacy where they can pick up their regular prescriptions without needing any paper prescription.

The move to electronic prescriptions is a vital project for Boots, which processes 100 million prescriptions per year through its 1,400 branches.

Boots Pharmacy IT manager Philip Hurst explained: "Dispensing prescriptions is a core part of the business and the ability to dispense e-prescriptions will become part of the essential services that a pharmacy will provide. In order to continue to operate, a pharmacy will have to operate an e-prescription service."

He added: "It's been quite a considerable change - it's the first time that pharmacy systems have had to be accredited with the NHS."

Boots is working with Quicksilva Software Solutions, which is providing the integration tool - Spinal Tap - to allow Boots to exchange electronic prescriptions with the data store known as the NHS Spine, and will soon start a beta test at an unnamed Boots store.

Hurst said: "We are in the process of developing an EPS compliant system which is currently going through the compliance process with Connecting for Health for EPS release one."

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