IT case study: Pharmacy in Sheffield goes paperless
One of the ironies for many pharmacy contractors is the increased use of paper in community pharmacy which has followed the widespread use of the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS), but one Sheffield pharmacy team has succeeded in adopting a paperless process, so they don’t print EPS tokens for all scripts.
How did they do it?
The team at Foxhill Pharmacy now dispense around 16,000 prescriptions each month using a paperless EPS operating model, but this didn’t happen overnight.
They started by agreeing a shared ambition to process EPS prescriptions without using paper. Over several months, they continuously captured feedback about the process challenges and shared this with their Patient Medication Record (PMR) system supplier so that refinements could be made to the PMR system to better support paperless operations.
The contractor also reviewed and adjusted the number of computers and mobile devices available in the pharmacy for prescription processing.
The pharmacy team worked to refine their operating procedures, including using their PMR system (Titan (Invatech Health) *) to display on mobile devices the medicines needing to be picked for individual prescriptions. They pick the required medicines in baskets, to which barcode labels are attached.
The team actively manages the on-screen prescription queues to see what needs to be processed first following EPS prescription downloads. They also use Real Time Exemption Checking (RTEC) to reduce the need for patients to sign exemption declarations on EPS tokens and they use NHSmail instead of faxes for communicating with general practices and others.
The pharmacy team have reported their new model brings a range of benefits including:
- improvement of dispensing accuracy through use of barcode technology;
- better control of business and workload activities;
- time saved for the pharmacy team; and
- the pharmacist can better focus on provision of services to patients.
Commenting on the benefits, Khizer Qureshi, Superintendent Pharmacist said:
“The direct benefits are many and a knock-on benefit with paperless EPS was that the journey has helped the development of the wider pharmacy team to enhance their IT and clinical skills. We would encourage other pharmacies to also explore the opportunity for refining their processes to remove more and more of the paper. We are now free of clutter and I am using the time saved to develop my services to patients, such as flu vaccinations. The change in our operating model has enabled us to feel better organised with everything flowing through the process more freely and the team now feel more engaged in the business.”
How can you start to move to paperless EPS operation?
You could start by considering the following:
- Explore how to optimise your IT set-up in the pharmacy, including the ability to use mobile devices and access to WiFi;
- Consider introducing a ‘bring your own device’ policy;
- Register for Real Time Exemption Checking (RTEC) using MYS to receive the feature without delay once your PMR can roll it out to you;
- Use Microsoft Teams (available as part of NHSmail) to help you collaborate with staff from nearby health and care organisations;
- Download electronic Schedules of Payment and electronic Px reports each month for your records and to help with analysis of your business;
- Submit your monthly prescription bundle electronically using the NHSBSA’s Manage Your Service (MYS) portal (over half of contractors are already doing so);
- Use backup solutions for digital documents on your local computer (in case the computer fails);
- Transfer paper documents you receive into a digital format for storage, using a flat bed or other scanner;
- Support local campaigns that seek to replace fax usage in health and care organisations by using NHSmail and alternative electronic options; and
- Get access to your NHSmail in the Outlook mobile app so that you have the option to be notified if a new email arrives in your shared pharmacy mailbox.
Share your experiences
PSNC and the Community Pharmacy IT Group would like to hear about your experiences of the journey towards paperless operations. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to provide feedback or take part in piloting paperless operations.
*Note: PSNC does not endorse the products of individual PMR suppliers.