Northern Ireland has announced that it has successfully completed its 2D barcoded prescription project.
The Electronic Prescribing and Eligibility System (EPES) was launched just over two years ago, when a £6.8m contract was awarded to Hewlett-Packard to provide 2D bar-coded prescriptions to counter fraud.
The system works by printing paper prescriptions with a two-dimensional barcode at the GP’s surgery. This encodes all of the information written on the prescription.
At the pharmacy, the prescription is logged into a database, eliminating transcription errors and reducing the opportunities for prescription fraud.
Pat Davis, project manager at NI’s directorate of information systems, said that since 1 May the Family Practitioner Service of the Central Service Agency has been using the system to capture, record and validate prescription information on all prescription forms in Northern Ireland; generating monthly payment files for community pharmacists and monitoring the prescribing process.
Since 17 November, the new Counter Fraud Unit Case Management System has also been operational to support the identification of discrepancies in prescription, ophthalmic and dental claims processes and challenge the individuals concerned.
Davis said the project meant that Northern Ireland now has at its disposal a single, patient centred, electronic history of prescribing and dispensing and the ability to electronically call up and view each of the 16.8m prescription forms returned annually to the CSA.
She added: “My thanks goes out to all in the CSA key stakeholder teams and team leaders who have worked so hard to realise this achievement, but especially I would draw your attention to the team from Hewlett-Packard. Their innovation and hard work have been central to delivering the EPES solutions for the Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety.”
Davis said the EPES database had the potential for other uses by healthcare professionals and departmental agencies. Electronic claims transfers by pharmacists (eClaims) has been tested in a six month pilot study but is currently subject to further negotiation between pharmacy representatives and the DHSSPS.