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Prescription for an electronic revolution?
Date:12/17/2007

Patients could be saved millions of trips to their GP under a new scheme that has the potential to revolutionise the system of prescribing medicines.

The electronic transfer of repeat prescriptions between general practices and pharmacies is currently being rolled out across the UK, in a bid to streamline the system and make it faster and more convenient for patients as well as cutting down on prescription errors.

And now the scheme is to be studied by academics at The University of Nottingham after they were awarded a 750,000 research grant from NHS Connecting for Health. A team of experts will spend two years analysing whether the system, which had its official launch on October 1, 2007, will benefit patients and the NHS. Professor Tony Avery, of Nottingham University Medical School, will build on his proven track record of research expertise in the field of prescribing in primary care.

Changes to the current system will affect huge numbers of people, because repeat prescriptions account for more than 70 per cent of all prescriptions made on the NHS around 500 million items of medicine every year.

Many are for elderly patients being treated for long-term ongoing conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma, arthritis, musculo-skeletal conditions and diabetes.

At the moment, a patient with a repeat prescription is required to go back to their GP practice each time their medication runs out, to request another prescription. The GP processes and signs each request by hand, meaning a wait for the patient of 2-3 working days. The patient then returns to the GP to pick up the new prescription, and then makes another journey, this time to the pharmacy to get their medication.

Under the new system, repeat prescription orders will be transferred electronically direct from the GP to the pharmacist when the previous prescription expires. So the patient need only make a single trip to the pharmacy, where their bar
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Contact: Tony Avery
anthony.avery@nottingham.ac.uk
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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