Welsh government presses ahead with ePrescribing
The Welsh government has unveiled proposals to improve the way patients and healthcare professionals including pharmacists access and manage medicines through electronic prescribing.
Under plans to digitise the prescribing system across the health service, GPs and other clinicians will no longer need to print and sign hard copies of prescriptions before sending them on to pharmacies.
Hard copies of prescriptions are currently archived by the NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership but they will be replaced by electronic prescriptions and electronic signatures under a system of ePrescribing.
The government is pressing ahead with the plans following an independent review into ePrescribing in Wales earlier this year and expects to implement the system across primary and secondary care within three to five years.
A centralised medicines data repository that will store electronic prescription records will be created as part of the new system, giving clinicians access to information such as the medicines a patient has been prescribed to prevent them being given another drug that is incompatible with their current medication or one that might cause an adverse reaction if they have been admitted to a different hospital than the one they usually attend.
The health and social services minister Eluned Morgan said the repository will allow other parts of the NHS in Wales to access anonymised data to review when and where medicines have been prescribed and how much has been provided “to allow proactive stock management and financial assurance".
The government is also planning to launch an NHS Wales app that will allow patients to order repeat prescriptions electronically, record when they take their medicine and access information on how their medication should be taken.
Ms Morgan stressed the new system will not replace existing resources but complement them because “not everyone can or wants to access online services.” She also said access to patient data will be restricted “to those who need it under very strict controls.”
Welsh Pharmacy Board chair Cheryl Way welcomed the plans and said ePrescribing “will not only improve the information availability and efficiencies for health professionals but drive up patient safety and put patients in greater control of their medication regimen".
“We appreciate this digital programme will be a significant undertaking, requiring complex technical solutions that join up primary, community and secondary care,” she said.
“We are also conscious it will take time to deliver. We are keen to understand more about how the delivery plans can be taken forward at pace and where the RPS can support our members and the implementation of digital prescribing solutions.”