Software to support the first phase of Scotland’s e-pharmacy plans has begun to be used by a pharmacy to run its minor ailments service.

Cegedim Rx is the first of the pharmacy system suppliers to release electronic minor ailments service (e-MAS) software which it is planned will eventually be used by all pharmacies across Scotland. The eight other pharmacy system suppliers are also developing e-MAS systems.

The software provides the IT support for minor ailments services which is one of four core parts of the new community pharmacy contract in Scotland which takes effect in April next year. The services allow pharmacists to prescribe medicines for minor ailments on the NHS to patients who are exempt from prescription charges. A paper-based system is already running in two health board areas, Ayrshire and Arran and Tayside.

The e-MAS software developed by Cegedim Rx means pharmacies can register patients electronically and record details of any medicines supplied. The record is held on a central server and the system also allows pharmacists to generate electronic prescriptions rather than hand-writing them as has been the case to date.

The eMAS systems uses an N3 connection and all Scottish pharmacies are currently in the process of being connected to N3 with the costs being met centrally . It will eventually also be used to send claims for reimbursement to National Services Scotland.

Steve Marrriott, marketing manager for Cegedim Rx, said the company’s eMAS software has been installed in one pharmacy this month, Tollgate Pharmacy in Prestwick, Ayrshire , but it will be used by all pharmacies using its Pharmacy Manager system, accounting for about 40 per cent of the Scottish pharmacy system market.

He told EHI Primary Care: “.Roll out is due to start soon because it seems to be going very well in the first pharmacy that is using it.”

Other elements of the e-pharmacy service which will be introduced as part of the new pharmacy contract include a chronic medication service and an acute medication service both of which will involve electronic transmission of prescriptions. ETP has also already been piloted in Ayrshire and Arran.

Pharmacy system suppliers will be asked to further develop their IT packages to support these services as the contract gets underway.

Alison Strath, of the pharmacy strategy implementation team at the Scottish Executive Health Department, said relationships with the suppliers had worked well so far.

She added: “We are very grateful for the support they have given us as we know that they have a lot of work in terms of what the health department in England is looking at as well but hopefully this will be an iterative process that will benefit everyone.”

The SEHD is also centrally funding an information management and training programme for community pharmacies to help them make the most of the new technology.