Cegedim Rx has announced that it is on track to deliver a version of its Pharmacy Manager solution that will support the delivery of Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (ETP) from May this year.

The firm, which supplies around 2,500 independent and regional and chain pharmacies, and owned by the same company as primary care systems supplier InPractice Systems, is the first software supplier to announce that it is on track to implement updates that will enable the delivery of ETP.

ETP is a key strand of the National Programme for IT, intended to enable prescriptions to be electronically sent from GP practices to community pharmacists, and providing patients with more choice in when and where they get their prescription filled.

Once ETP is fully rolled-out, scheduled for 2008, patients will be able to get repeat prescription filled without needing to visit their GP. Other promised benefits are an end to illegible hand-written prescriptions, reduced fraud and more accurate dosage, prescribing and dispensing information.

Due to begin initial roll-out from this May, ETP will be a national application that operates over the NHS spine, the NHS electronic communications backbone now under development by BT, and will eventually form part of the NHS Care Record Service. The first step towards developing ETP will be for GP and community pharmacy software suppliers to update their systems to specifications set by the national programme.

In addition to the national system and upgrades to local systems the national ETP service will require technology such as smart cards to identify and authenticate NHS staff, scanners to electronically scan in paper prescriptions and prescription tokens – which will be used as an interim measure to identify patients.

While details of implementation plans for ETP have not yet been published Cegedim Rx says “the most likely scenario will be for ETP to be implemented on a local cluster basis, with all pharmacies within a certain radius of a GP practice being implemented at the same time".

ETP should remove many of the logistical and security problems of the traditional paper-based prescription service. Practices will send prescriptions directly to the pharmacy for a more streamlined and efficient system.

Cegedigm Rx was formed in 2004 following the acquisition of NDCHealth UK by InPractice Systems’ parent company Cegedim. Cegedim Rx and InPS are now said to be working together closely to develop next-generation solutions for the PCT and pharmacy sectors.
The firm currently supplies its software to around 2,500 independent and regional and chain pharmacies.

Simon Driver, Managing Director of Cegedim Rx said: “ETP and its place within NPfIT is an exciting development and Cegedim Rx is well placed to meet the current and future needs of the National Programme."

According to the company detailed design specifications and project plans have been submitted to NPfIT and, subject to approval, it will begin coding to prepare its Pharmacy Manager system to be compliant by May.