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GP confusion over electronic prescriptions

17 January 2014

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Practices do not fully understand electronic prescription services (EPS), a survey has shown. 

A survey of 834 GPs in England found that although a quarter (25%) of respondents are planning to upgrade to electronic prescriptions in 2014, many (48%) would not be able to explain the nominations process to patients.

Around 46% did not know that under EPS, patients would be able to nominate any EPS-enabled pharmacy in England. 

Nomination allows patients to choose (“nominate”) a pharmacy to which their electronic prescriptions would be sent automatically. 

According to the Connecting for Health website, EPS will reduce the workload generated by patients collecting individual prescriptions, which will improve efficiency and make it easier to use repeat dispensing. 

Many respondents (43%) – including those who have not yet switched – are confident that EPS would provide a more efficient repeat prescription service. 

At least 15% of respondents have already switched to EPS R2. 

The research also explored the practical issues involved in switching to digital prescriptions – 58% of GPs using EPS had experienced teething troubles when switching. 

Issues included lack of preparation among local pharmacies (55%) and lack of training for practice staff (37%). 

Dr Julian Harrison, a director of Pharmacy2U, who commissioned the survey, said: “It’s encouraging to see the increased uptake of electronic prescriptions but concerning that a key element of the service – greater patient choice of pharmacy – is not yet fully understood by the profession.”

More information on nomination is available on the Connecting for Health website