Patient Facing Services (PFS)
Published on: 2nd November 2015 | Updated on: 7th April 2022
Online patient facing services (PFS), sometimes referred to as ‘GP online services’ or ‘online services’ allow patients to increasingly use the internet for:
- viewing their electronic medical record;
- ordering repeat prescriptions;
- communicating with their GP practice, and
- booking GP appointments.
NHS Digital may be involved with the technical assurance of these online services.
Read more within our PSNC Briefing: PFS and patient app offerings (2020) as well as below.
It is expected that PFS will complement the existing methods of GP practices and others contacting patients. The four services are:
1. Patient access to electronic health records.
Providing the capability for patients to register for, and to access, internet-facing services that provide read-only access to their GP records, either a sub-set, or the full record.
2. Ordering of repeat prescription.
Enabling patients to request their repeat prescriptions online, and for that request to be approved, particularly if previously authorised by the GP practice to be re-ordered.
In the event that EPS nomination is in place, information may also later be transmitted electronically to the community pharmacy so that the patient can collect it from their chosen pharmacy or have the item delivered to their home.
3. GP appointment booking.
Providing the capability for patients to register for, and to access, internet-facing services that allow booking appointments and requesting repeat medications.
4. Communication with GP practice (e.g. email).
Providing the capability for patients to register for, and to access, alternative ways to contact and communicate with clinicians e.g. email or video messaging.
NHS Digital statistics reveal that more than 97% of the population could be provided with access to PFS, and reveal that access to the services is on the increase. Over time, patients will be able to access PFS from a range of suppliers, including from a range of mobile app developers. Some app developers which have developed and offer certain digital online services could work with all or limited community pharmacy organisations.
Some pharmacy contractors may opt to encourage patients to seek those benefits available for patients from the NHS App: ability to access the record, order repeat prescriptions and book GP appointments.
PFS providers may enable patients to use features via a website or app.
Lists of providers include:
- The patient-facing NHS website: NHS list of online service providers.
- NHS Digital lists: those suppliers that have fulfilled IM1 pairing to integrate with one or more PFS; and sub-lists suppliers integrating with each of the GP systems’ PFS (i.e. SystmOne (TPP), EMIS, Vision (InPS) and Evolution (Microtest)).
- The NHS Health Apps Library – which includes a pharmacy category
- Lists which could be visible from within the NHS App.
- PSNC lists patient apps, most of which provide PFS (see list at psnc.org.uk/apps). PSNC has explained which PFS service each of those apps provides.
Some points are set out below which relate to patient choice and Patient Facing Services (PFS). These are also sometimes referred to as ‘GP online services’ or ‘online services’.
- NHS Digital technically assures certain PFS. The services are: (1) Patient access to electronic health records; (2) Ordering of repeat prescription; or (3) GP appointment booking; (4) certain GP practice communication to patient.
- Technology providers which enable patients to use PFS, and organisations that list patient PFS apps must ensure that patients are exposed to balanced information in order to continue to make fair choices. Patients must continue to be empowered to make a fair choice about whether to use a PFS tool. Patients whilst using PFS tools must also continue to be able to make a fair choice about their chosen pharmacy contractor.
- Some of the providers that provide at least some of the PFSs may also work with a limited selection of pharma(cies) e.g. some apps may use a subscription model. Some pharmacy contractors may also have their own or selected tool which allows PFS for their patients. Any pharmacy contractor may explore opportunities for them to help patients to benefit from the use of PFS e.g. promotion of NHS App or an equivalent app/tool which allows PFS without influencing choice of pharmacy.
- Patients have the right to choose any pharmacy to provide services for them.
- Patient choice of pharmacy should not be unduly influenced. Patients which believe their choice has been restricted may follow the process set-out on NHS England’s Poster/guidance on freedom of choice including patient process for complaints (pdf).
- The NHS Constitution set out that patients must receive fair choice.
- EPS nomination must allow patient choice of pharmacy/dispenser and pharmacy/dispenser setting of nominations must only be undertaken where there is informed consent from the patient.
- GP practice apps and nomination guidance: The nomination core principles apply for all EPS users. GP practice staff supporting use of GP practice apps which enable or promote nomination change, should also ensure these apps do not inadvertantly contravene nomination guidance. British Medical Association (BMA) and PSNC agreed guidelines to ensure proper prescription practices are followed.
- See also: Patient apps and their features, Direction of prescriptions, and ‘Patient pharmacy-related choice and technology’ section of https://psnc.org.uk/reportIT.
IM1 NHS standards may enable PFS to be integrated into pharmacy systems.
Pharmacy supplier integration with PFS is set out below.
|Analyst PMR (Positive Solutions (PSL))||Unknown
|Pharmacy Manager/Nexphase (Cegedim Rx)||Unknown|
|ProScript Connect (EMIS Health)||Unknown|
If you are a supplier or a pharmacy contractor, and are aware that any supplier details above have changed or you have question about this webpage please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- PFS (online services) and app offerings: update (2020)
- GP online services / PFS (NHS)
- Patient Online is an NHS England programme to promote PFS and support GPs with implementation. Their site includes an interactive ‘Support and Resources guide’.
If you have queries on this webpage or you require more information please contact email@example.com. To share and hear views about digital developments with like-minded pharmacy team members, join the CP Digital email group today.
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For more information on this topic please email firstname.lastname@example.org