Choosing/changing a system supplier
Published on: 10th September 2014 | Updated on: 5th December 2023
Pharmacy systems are business-critical so consider carefully your options when selecting suitable system suppliers, with the features you will need now and in the future.
Additional questions that you may want to discuss with prospective suppliers include:
- Features: Does the system have those frequently requested features listed within the Community Pharmacy IT Group’s (CP ITG‘s) Wishlist of system features?
- Efficiency: How effectively does the supplier support the efficient use, how does the supplier provide enhancements beyond the minimum standards?
- Upgrade costs: What costs will be incurred in upgrading (one-off and ongoing)?
- Contract Length: What is the contract length and the detail of the service level agreement? Can the payment be associated with your prescription or service volumes? Is there a penalty clause for early termination of the contract? What is the ease and cost of transferring data into the system at the beginning of the contract or out of the system at the end of the contract? Contracts with a long duration period are not recommended.
- Additional hardware? Will the pharmacy need any additional hardware? Will this be provided by the system supplier or will you have to purchase it separately?
- Router quality and replacement cycles: Routers have been identified as one of the key factors which enable better internet speeds. What are the arrangements for replacement cycles so your hardware is always up-to-date (see cpe.org.uk/routers)?
- Training at start: How does the system supplier plan to train pharmacy staff in using the new system? Is refresher training available if there is a gap between installation and system use? What type of training is being offered and does it meet the needs of your pharmacy team?
- Ongoing support: What ongoing system support is available?
- Failures and contingencies: What arrangements are in place for when something goes wrong? What are the helpdesk opening hours ? What are the guaranteed response times for dealing with problems when they occur? What contingency arrangements are put in place to ensure that there is business continuity, for example 4G back-up cards, off-site back-ups etc.? What are the escalation routes if the supplier doesn’t meet the guaranteed response times? Are there options available for raising an incident or do all support requests need to be made by phone?
- User-testing? How much user engagement is there in the ongoing development of the system? Are you able to feed in to support continued development and improvement?
If it is an EPS system specifically, consider:
- Beyond EPS: What functionality is in the system or in development to support the provision of services (for example support for the New Medicine Service, support for recording MURs electronically and generating printed copies of the MUR Form etc.)?
- Robot/other integration? If the pharmacy uses or is planning to use an electronic point of sale (EPOS) system or dispensing robot or another integration, does the systems integrate with this technology.
- Alerts and reports: How effectively will the system alert you to issues, or prescriptions which haven’t been claimed? What type of reports will the system be able to generate, i.e. your end of month figures to include in your submission document to the NHSBSA? Or, identifying patients who have incomplete exemption status?
- ODS code change: after there has been a change of ODS code at a pharmacy, how this could impact how NHS IT such as EPS will function within the pharmacy. See ODS Codes.
For a CPCF services IT system:
- Can the system show the number of service reports submitted to the NHSBSA monthly? This would help you to compare the service delivery totals with the totals that are received into the NHSBSA’s MYS system.
- Suppliers and pharmacy contractors should consider avoiding long contracts (e.g. above a maximum one year in time) because of the associated inflexibility for all parties.
Refer to the ODS/IT change checklist which deals with both ODS/IT and supplier change: IT and ODS change checklist
Community Pharmacy IT Group (CP ITG) previously supported developing a recommended minimum dataset for cases where a pharmacy contractor has switched from one PMR system to another. For the sake of continuity of patient care, it is critical for some patient information to be transferred from the old to the new system.
Community Pharmacy England has worked with a CP ITG sub-group on a minimum dataset and associated transfer specification document:
This was updated in June 2023 to a version 1.0, taking into account of system supplier comments.
The ‘latest start date for use of this specification’ is 1st October 2024, although suppliers should use it before this time wherever possible.
- Pharmacy system: requested features and development
- System specifications
- List of system suppliers and their contact details
- Reporting or feeding back about IT issues
- CPCS IT support
If you have queries on this webpage, or wish to suggest possible spec changes (in case of future amendment opportunities) or you require more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. To share and hear views about digital developments with like-minded pharmacy team members, join the CP Digital email group today.