Patients can view EPS information within the NHS App

As reported previously, in a new feature for the NHS App, patients are able to view their EPS prescribed items.

The app shows the items prescribed, the prescription type (repeat or one-off) and who the prescriber is.

Piloting

NHS England’s Transformation Directorate piloted this feature in Yorkshire. The results were positive, supporting the subsequent national rollout for the functionality.

The functionality had been rolled out across more localities during the last few months, and national deployment was completed in late January 2024.

National rollout completed

Patients can now see their EPS prescription information in the NHS App.  Most patients will continue to have their prescriptions dispensed by a local pharmacy, however, some patients may take their non-nominated prescriptions to pharmacies elsewhere within England.

As there will not be push notifications from the NHS App to users about EPS prescriptions, the expectation is that most patients will not immediately notice the new functionality.

The presence of EPS barcode numbers within the NHS App may assist pharmacy teams dealing with outlier situations such as Phase 4 prescriptions and prescriptions which have been returned to the Spine by another pharmacy.

Commenting on the new feature, Community Pharmacy England’s IT Policy Manager, Dan Ah-Thion, said:

“This feature assists pharmacy teams with managing non-nominated prescriptions. The feature has been supported by Community Pharmacy England and Community Pharmacy IT Group.

“Whilst no single measure will completely eliminate the use of paper within EPS processing, we welcome this reduced paper usage by patients.

“The new feature also provides patients with more information about their prescription items, which can help to decrease the number of queries that pharmacy teams need to handle.

“We know pharmacy teams will continue to encourage patients to enjoy the benefits of EPS nomination.

“We are dedicated to supporting future EPS and NHS App improvements that build on this feature, such as a uniform ‘ready for collection status’ that streamline pharmacy team processes – a key initiative for NHS England’s Transformation Directorate and pharmacy IT provider.”

Further details on this change

Q: What EPS prescription information will be visible in the NHS App?

EPS prescription information is visible in the NHS App once the EPS prescription is uploaded to Spine after the prescriber electronically signs it. The patient can see:

  • items that have been prescribed (name, form and quantity);
  • the healthcare provider who prescribed the medicines;
  • the patient’s chosen (nominated) pharmacy, dispensing doctor or dispensing appliance contractor (DAC); and
  • a prescription barcode* plus the prescription ID number (equivalent to the EPS paper token barcode).

*The EPS barcode will be hidden (‘collapsed’) if the prescription is nominated, and is not viewable to the patient unless a patient opts to ‘uncollapse’ the barcode. For non-nominated prescriptions and prescriptions returned to Spine the barcode will be viewable by default ( ‘uncollapsed’) and alongside a message that the prescription can be taken to any pharmacy.

Patients will not see the EPS prescription information within the NHS App if the prescription is:

  • not prescribed via EPS;
  • an eRD prescription;
  • post-dated (until the effective date when the prescription becomes available on the Spine to download, at which point it will be visible);
  • cancelled;
  • beyond the EPS 180-day limit; or
  • in an archived state (36 days after the dispensing organisation submits an EPS claim message against the prescription).

The information is found within the “View and manage prescriptions” section accessible from the NHS App home screen.

Q: What does this functionality mean for my pharmacy?

In many cases, patients may not yet be aware of the functionality.

The functionality may assist patients and their pharmacy in outlier scenarios such as dealing with those Phase 4 non-nominated prescriptions or a nominated EPS prescription that has been returned to the Spine (e.g. due to stock non-availability at a pharmacy). Pharmacy team members can opt to scan the digital barcode or look up the prescription ID within the NHS App to pull down the prescription into the PMR system, reducing the need to spend time using the EPS Tracker.

The introduction of prescription information within NHS App fulfils pharmacy team requests for alternatives to paper EPS tokens.

Patients’ EPS nominations will remain in place, and community pharmacy teams will continue to help patients get the most out of the EPS nomination system. EPS nomination enables electronic prescriptions to be sent from the prescriber to the pharmacy, so that the pharmacy can prepare medicines in advance, before patients come to collect their medicines from the pharmacy. This system of EPS nomination also continues to support pharmacy planning and processes.

The percentage of EPS prescriptions which are non-nominated is low and will remain as such.

Q: What does this mean for patients?

NHS England’s user research has shown that offering greater visibility of prescription information:

  • offers confirmation and reassurance for patients that a prescription has been issued;
  • enables patients to manage their medicines and prescription-related queries earlier by providing information on prescribed items; and
  • enables patients to understand the overall prescription process better.

For patients with non-nominated prescriptions, having a digital prescription barcode in the NHS App could reduce the time needed to collect paper tokens and remove the risk of them losing prescription IDs.

Q. Will patients receive NHS App push notifications about EPS prescriptions?

No, patients will not receive push notifications about the digital token. However, if patients find the prescription information within their NHS App, they will also be shown  a message that pharmacy teams require time to process prescriptions before they are ready for collection.

Q. What is the patient communications plan?

Following user research by NHS England, patient-facing communications materials will refer to the electronic prescription information within the NHS App as a ‘digital prescription’ or ‘prescription information within NHS App’. Patient feedback was that the term ‘token’ was confusing to them.

NHS England’s Transformation Directorate will provide patient promotional material for those practices which that wish to make it available at the practice (including its website) and surrounding pharmacies.

The deployment of this new NHS App new feature started to receive some national media coverage at the end of January 2024.

The patient-facing NHS website includes information about the feature.

Q. How to handle scanning EPS Phase 4 barcodes on patients’ phones.

Pharmacies should ask the patient for permission before handling their device to enable scanning of the EPS barcode (if there is an appropriate scanner on the counter or a wireless scanner). Some patients may prefer that their smartphone not be taken out of their sight.

Q. Could EPS prescription information appear in other apps?

Currently, NHS-assured digital EPS prescription tokens will only appear within the NHS App.

The continued use of this functionality will help inform further work on IT standards for digital EPS tokens. NHS England anticipates that over time, other app developers aligned to NHS IT standards will be able to offer the same functionality.

More information on the digital EPS prescription token can also be found at this link.

Q. Will patients see all prescription item information ‘together’, if they have multiple EPS prescriptions?

Individual EPS prescriptions can include up to four items.

At present, the digital tokens will correspond to individual EPS prescriptions. For example, if five items are prescribed, this will be split into two EPS prescriptions, and patients can view two EPS digital tokens within the NHS App’s “View and manage prescriptions” section .

Q. Are Electronic Repeat Dispensing digital tokens visible within the NHS App?

No.

Feedback

If you have any feedback on this new functionality, please visit cpe.org.uk/itfeedback.

 

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