When to upgrade to EPS Release 2?
When to upgrade to EPS Release 2?
Every pharmacy contractor will need to consider their individual circumstances and carefully weigh up benefits, risks, opportunities and costs to determine the optimal time to upgrade.
Understanding when local GPs will be going live
As a starting point, it is important to try and understand when local GPs are likely to start issuing electronic prescriptions, for example, which clinical systems do local GPs use and have these systems been granted EPS Release 2 full roll-out approval? (definitive information on the development status of systems can be found on the NHS Digital website) When do local GPs expect to deploy EPS Release 2? (seek a view from local GPs or use the online deployment map on the NHS Digital website)
GPs going live with EPSR2
Understanding when particular systems can use R2
Different suppliers have different lead times for deploying Release 2 upgrades so this also needs to be taken into consideration. More information on supplier’s deployment plans can be obtained by contacting individual suppliers.
Going live before the local GPs: Opportunities vs Risks
The benefits of Release 2 will only start being realised once a pharmacy starts receiving electronic prescriptions. Some pharmacies have chosen to upgrade to EPS R2 well in advance of their local GPs for a number of reasons including positioning themselves ready for EPS Release 2, to access the EPS Release 2 one-off allowance or to enable the pharmacy to begin technically setting patient nominations on the Personal Demographics Service (PDS), where patients have consented.
When making a decision on when to upgrade, it is important to balance the opportunities and benefits of upgrading against costs and risks. System suppliers will be able to provide information on one-off deployment costs as well as any increases in ongoing costs for the system. If there is a significant gap between the pharmacy system being upgraded to Release 2 and starting to receive electronic prescriptions there is a risk that some costs will be duplicated, for example there may be a need to refresh staff training and if the system is not being regularly used by staff, there may be an increased risk that staff forget their individual smartcard passcodes.
For the time being, only ‘nominated’ prescriptions can be sent electronically. Once a pharmacy is EPS Release 2 enabled, they will be shown as such on NHS Choices and could be nominated by patients registered with any EPS Release 2 enabled prescriber, anywhere in England. To ensure patient access to medicines, once EPS Release 2 is enabled, at all times, there needs to be at least one staff member in the pharmacy with a functioning smartcard and the ability to use the system in case an electronic prescription is received.
Collecting nominations before the pharmacy is live
Where a pharmacy has not yet upgraded to EPS Release 2, it is still possible to start collecting patient consent for nomination. However, if there is a delay of greater than 4 – 6 weeks between collecting consent and changing the patient’s preference on the Personal Demographics Service, the pharmacy contractor must confirm that there has been no change in the patient’s circumstances, including their choice of nominated dispensing site.
The deployment status of pharmacies in a locality can be found in the online deployment map on the NHS Digital website.