Patient Facing Services (PFS)

Published on: 2nd November 2015 | Updated on: 30th January 2024

Online patient facing services (PFS), sometimes referred to as ‘GP online services’ or ‘online services’ allow patients to increasingly use the internet. It is expected that PFS will complement the existing methods of  NHS account options, and GP practice options for digitally interacting patients. The four main services are:

Patient access to electronic health records: Providing the capability for patients to register for, and to access, internet-facing services that provide read-only access to their GP records, either a sub-set, or the full record. Read more: Electronic health records

Ordering of repeat prescription: Enabling patients to request their repeat prescriptions online, and for that request to be approved, particularly if previously authorised by the GP practice to be re-ordered. In the event that EPS nomination is in place, information may also later be transmitted electronically to the community pharmacy so that the patient can collect it from their chosen pharmacy or have the item delivered to their home. Many pharmacies of all sizes provide an online ordering option (e.g. apps with NHS IM1 integration) in which the pharmacy is sighted to the orders. Some pharmacy teams are also benefitting from patients using the NHS App, although the pharmacy will not be sighted to medicine orders made by patients that use the NHS App to order repeat prescriptions. Read more: Online repeat prescription ordering

GP/other appointment booking: Providing the capability for patients to register for, and to access, internet-facing services that allow booking appointments and requesting repeat medications. Read more: Digitally booked appointments

Communication with GP practice (e.g. email): Providing the capability for patients to register for, and to access, alternative ways to contact and communicate with clinicians e.g. email or video messaging. NHS England may be involved with the technical assurance of these online services.

Read more within our Community Pharmacy England Briefing: PFS and patient app offerings as well as below.

Stats and growth

NHS England statistics reveal that more than 97% of the population could be provided with access to PFS and reveal that access to the services is on the increase. Over time, patients will be able to access PFS from a range of suppliers, including from a range of mobile app developers. Some app developers which have developed and offer certain digital online services could work with all or limited community pharmacy organisations.

Lists of providers

PFS providers may enable patients to use features via a website or app.

Lists of providers include:

  • The patient-facing NHS website: NHS list of online service providers.
  • NHS England lists: those suppliers that have fulfilled IM1 pairing to integrate with one or more PFS; and sub-lists suppliers integrating with each of the GP systems’ PFS (i.e. SystmOne (TPP), EMIS and Vision (InPS).
  • Lists which could be visible from within the NHS App.
  • Community Pharmacy England lists patient apps, most of which provide PFS (see list at Community Pharmacy England has explained which PFS service each of those apps provides.

Patient choice

Some points are set out below which relate to patient choice and Patient Facing Services (PFS). These are also sometimes referred to as ‘GP online services’ or ‘online services’.

  • NHS England technically assures certain PFS. The services are: (1) Patient access to electronic health records; (2) Ordering of repeat prescription; or (3) GP appointment booking; (4) certain GP practice communication to patient.
  • Technology providers which enable patients to use PFS, and organisations that list patient PFS apps must ensure that patients are exposed to balanced information in order to continue to make fair choices. Patients must continue to be empowered to make a fair choice about whether to use a PFS tool. Patients whilst using PFS tools must also continue to be able to make a fair choice about their chosen pharmacy contractor.
  • Some of the providers that provide at least some of the PFSs may also work with a limited selection of pharma(cies) e.g. some apps may use a subscription model. Some pharmacy contractors may also have their own or selected tool which allows PFS for their patients. Any pharmacy contractor may explore opportunities for them to help patients to benefit from the use of PFS e.g. promotion of NHS App or an equivalent app/tool which allows PFS without influencing choice of pharmacy.
  • Patients have the right to choose any pharmacy to provide services for them.
  • Patient choice of pharmacy should not be unduly influenced. Patients which believe their choice has been restricted may follow the process set-out on NHS England’s Poster/guidance on freedom of choice including patient process for complaints (pdf).
  • The NHS Constitution set out that patients must receive fair choice.
  • EPS nomination must allow patient choice of pharmacy/dispenser and pharmacy/dispenser setting of nominations must only be undertaken where there is informed consent from the patient.
  • GP practice apps and nomination guidance: The nomination core principles apply for all EPS users. GP practice staff supporting use of GP practice apps which enable or promote nomination change, should also ensure these apps do not inadvertently contravene nomination guidance. British Medical Association (BMA) and Community Pharmacy England agreed guidelines to ensure proper prescription practices are followed.
  • See also: Patient apps and their featuresDirection of prescriptions, and ‘Patient pharmacy-related choice and technology’ section of

Standards and supplier integration

IM1 NHS standards may enable PFS to be integrated into pharmacy systems.

Pharmacy supplier integration with PFS is set out below.

PFS integration(s)
Analyst PMR (Positive Solutions (PSL)) Unknown
Colombus (Boots) Unknown
CoMPass (Lloydspharmacy) Unknown
Pharmacy Manager/Nexphase (Cegedim Rx) Unknown
ProScript Connect (EMIS Health) Unknown
RxWeb (Clanwilliam) Unknown
Titan (Invatechhealth) Unknown

If you are a supplier or a pharmacy contractor, and are aware that any supplier details above have changed or you have question about this webpage please contact:

Further info

See also:



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