Prescribing remains predominantly paper based in the UK, with clinicians still printing and signing hard copies before sending them to pharmacies.
But there’s a new way: electronic prescribing – often called ePrescribing.
It removes the need to physically sign these copies, replacing them with electronic signatures and prescriptions.
And with medication being delivered straight to their door, it’s also a hit with clients.
- Help improve healthcare quality and patient safety by reducing medication errors
- Speed up the prescriptions process, so clinicians spend less time dealing with prescription queries
- Reduce the use of paper, improve stock control, and provide a more efficient service to patients
In short, ePrescribing is more convenient, cheaper, and safer for clinicians, pharmacies, and patients.
What is ePrescribing?
ePrescriptions are an advancement in technology that has made it easier and faster for clients to get prescriptions. They simplify and streamline the process of prescribing and dispensing medications.
An ePrescription system allows medical practitioners to issue prescriptions electronically, removing paperwork from the equation and making it easier to monitor patient records.
There is also no need for printed prescriptions, as pharmacists can now validate and dispense medicines electronically.
ePrescribing doesn’t change the existing prescribing processes – it only provides a more convenient way of doing things so that prescribers and patients benefit from a faster, easier experience regarding medication management.
In addition, this technology can help reduce dispensing errors and improve patient safety outcomes associated with incorrect fills or doses being prescribed.
The benefits of ePrescribing
One of the major advantages of using an electronic prescription is that it saves time.
Rather than asking the patient to come to the clinic to collect a traditional paper prescription, prescribers can now use their digital devices to generate prescriptions remotely. During face-to-face, telephone or video consultations, prescription medication can be sent straight to the patient’s home, significantly reducing footfall in practice.
Standardised online prescription information reduces the number of queries from dispensers, and there’s no need for clinicians to post prescriptions, as ePrescribing software handles this for you.
Digitally storing the prescription in your clinic management software also helps reduce the risk of losing scripts or other valuable medical information. ePrescriptions improve medicine safety overall by ensuring that any error or mix-up in dosage, strength or other information is less likely to occur.
For patients who travel frequently, digital prescriptions are especially useful as they provide an easier and more convenient way to access medicine when away from home.
How ePrescribing works in your practice
This integration lets you create and instantly send digitally-signed electronic prescriptions straight to a pharmacy for same-day delivery directly to your patients.
The patient will be contacted for payment by a secure online payment platform. Once paid for, the prescription will be checked by a pharmacist and dispensed and dispatched to the patient’s delivery address. Most prescriptions will be dispatched the same day payment is received.
There is no paper or signed prescription required.
ePrescription Case Study: Dr Louise Newson from Newson Health
Dr Louise Newson, the owner of Newson Health, a menopause and wellness centre, says her ePrescribing service has enabled them to grow by approximately 50%.
In Stratford Upon Avon, Newson Health provides unbiased, evidence-based advice for women experiencing perimenopause and menopause.
As a result of the pandemic, the private clinic opened online consultations. With ePrescribing, they could provide patients with an improved prescription service and accelerate their digital transformation, resulting in unprecedented growth as the number of prescriptions issued increased rapidly.
In the days before Covid, all consultations and prescriptions were handled face-to-face at Newson Health. Moving online, the clinic could consult with patients who could not travel during lockdown and expand its remote clinical team.
Dr Newson said: “We found that moving online has opened up a whole new geographic of patients who previously wouldn’t have had access to our services. Add to this several patients with more time to explore their options, and we have found ourselves in extremely high demand.
“While we could appoint more clinicians to carry out online appointments, logistically, we struggled to keep up with the admin side of the prescriptions, not to mention storage for medication to cope with this huge increase in prescriptions.
“Our admin staff were responsible for dispensing and packaging all the medication, which was a huge undertaking. The business was growing but restricted because we didn’t have the manpower or storage to get the prescriptions out. Working with ePrescriptions became the obvious step.”
Dr Newson added: “Using ePrescribing service CloudRx immediately took away the strain. Since our partnership, we have grown by approximately 50% in size. We could not have done that without their support. It has allowed for seamless scalability – I don’t think we will notice any constraints if we increase in size again.”
Online prescriptions have also improved the patient experience.
Dr Newson said: “The prescriptions are securely and conveniently created on our digital prescribing platform, and then medicines are sent out and often arrive at the patient’s door 24 hours later. Not only does this make life easier for patients who don’t have to leave the house, but they can also track their delivery and know when to expect it.
“It also removes the possibility of the patient’s local pharmacy failing to have the medication. The testosterone we prescribe, for example, is not licensed on the NHS, so all chemists do not carry it. With CloudRx, there is no concern that it won’t be in stock.”
She added: “We’ve also seen a massive reduction in patients ringing to find out where their prescriptions are – we just don’t have to worry about it anymore. We’ve had glowing reviews from our patients. One customer described it as ‘fabulously efficient’, and another said it was an ‘impressive and flawless process’ – we can’t argue with that!”
What are the legal requirements for ePrescribing in the UK?
Legal prescriptions in the UK can be created by electronic communication and signature under The Medicines for Human Use (Prescribing) Order 2005.
An ‘advanced electronic signature’ can be used to authorise an electronic prescription, but not for controlled drugs and not for veterinary prescriptions:
“An advanced electronic signature is a signature that is linked uniquely to the signatory, capable of identifying the signatory and created using means over which the signatory can maintain sole control” – (Regulation 219(5) Human Medicines Regulations 2012).
For an electronic signature to be considered advanced, it must meet the following requirements:
- The signatory can be uniquely identified and linked to the signature.
- The signatory must have sole control of the signature creation data (typically a private key) used to create the electronic signature.
- The signature must identify if its accompanying data has been tampered with after the message was signed.
- If the accompanying data has been changed, the signature must be invalidated.
The electronic signature must be “advanced” in that it is uniquely linked to the prescriber and is created using a method that could only have been under the sole control of the prescriber.
With WriteUpp and CloudRx, an electronic prescription can be created and signed with an advanced electronic signature.
This is achieved through each prescriber being authenticated and then a unique username and password being securely issued to allow access to the online prescribing system with prescriber rights. This ensures that the electronic signature later created is uniquely linked to the signatory and can identify the signatory.
The prescriber reviews prescriptions to be signed within the CloudRx system, and if satisfied that it is appropriate to prescribe, they sign the prescription using their unique username and password. The legal prescription is created then, and the system date and time stamp the prescription.
When the pharmacy accesses the prescription for pharmacy authorisation before dispensing, the prescription data can only be accessed if the data matches the same data the prescriber signed.
How is patient data protected with ePrescribing?
Before using an ePrescribing platform, make sure that your patient data will remain secure by checking the following:
- Payment details are entered onto an encrypted website.
- The system is PCI DSS compliant, and no payment details are stored.
- Your patient receives a secure payment link.
- The patient will be informed in real-time if the payment fails.
WriteUpp and CloudRx have ticked off all of the above, so you can prescribe medication to your clients without worrying about GDPR or the safety of your patient data.
How do I prescribe digitally with WriteUpp?
To generate ePrescriptions via WriteUpp, you need to be registered with CloudRx as a prescriber.
You can only register for CloudRx and use this integration if you are a registered prescriber in the UK, and medications can only be dispensed to addresses in the UK and Channel Islands.
Once you’ve done that, just follow the simple steps in the following video:
You can also check out the CloudRx setup guides in our help centre.
Feel free to grab us for a live chat if you’re stuck. The button is in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.