The Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio and Life Sciences Hub Wales have launched a new fund today to help the suppliers of digital community pharmacy systems in Wales deliver an electronic prescription service (EPS).
The introduction of an EPS in primary care in Wales will make the prescribing and dispensing process safer, easier and more efficient for patients and health care professionals.
The work is a key part of the Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio, which is hosted by Digital Health and Care Wales. It will enable prescribers, such as GPs, to send prescriptions electronically to a dispenser, such as a community pharmacy of the patient’s choice.
To accelerate the delivery of this exciting service improvement, a Community Pharmacy System Innovation Fund has been established to provide grants. These will help suppliers of community pharmacy systems to develop their systems to use EPS and receive the electronic transfer of prescriptions.
The Community Pharmacy System Innovation Fund also lets applicants submit bids for financial support to deliver innovations that will result in paperless dispensing and integration with the new NHS Wales app.
The fund is open from 3 April 2023 until October 2024, and community pharmacy system suppliers are invited to bid across the following three tiers:
- To develop and implement the changes necessary to community pharmacy systems to enable EPS in a Wales-based pharmacy through an assured patient medication record (PMR). This tier must be completed successfully before suppliers can apply for tiers two and three funding.
- To be able to send push notifications to the NHS Wales App to advise that a person’s medicines have been prepared and are ready for collection, along with the location of the pharmacy and its opening hours. This will empower patients to become more aware and in charge of their medications.
- To help make community pharmacy dispensing paperless, although patients will still have the right to request a paper prescription if they wish.
The fund is open to applications from UK-registered businesses that currently supply, or have the potential to supply, pharmacies in Wales with digital services and just over £110,000 is available, per supplier, to bid for in total, across all three tiers.
Only activities associated with the aims explained in each tier are within the scope of the fund. Each tier is for a predefined maximum sum available, for up to 100% of evidenced revenue costs for work related to the requirements of that tier.
Aim to improve service delivery
The fund will be delivered by Life Sciences Hub Wales and the Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio on behalf of the Welsh Government.
Digital medicines transformation portfolio senior responsible owner Hamish Laing said: “We are excited to be launching this fund, which provides a crucial opportunity to support not just the technical changes needed to implement EPS in Wales, but also improvements that will help modernise pharmacy practice and provide a much better service and experience for patients.”
Life Sciences Hub Wales’ chief executive Cari-Anne Quinn said, “Digitisation of the Welsh prescription service will deliver a safer and more efficient system benefiting patients whilst freeing up vital time and resource for healthcare professionals.
“We’re proud to be supporting this transformation by managing the fund and award process and look forward to seeing improved service delivery across the nation.”
EPS is expected to replace the printing of more than 40 million paper prescription forms in Wales annually.
The innovation fund is provided by the Welsh Government’s Digital Priorities Investment Fund and is an important step forward to help community pharmacies in Wales improve their use of digital technology.
Chief pharmaceutical officer for Wales, Andrew Evans, said: “The fund is major step forward for community pharmacies in Wales and will help them realise the significant opportunities presented by digital ways of working.”
Digitisation in healthcare in Wales is at the forefront of the agenda, with Digital Health and Care Wales playing a key role. Recently, it launched a new digital systems usability survey, which will assess the effectiveness of the clinical digital systems that are in use across NHS Wales.