An electronic system which enables pharmacies to immediately check if a patient is eligible for free prescriptions is to be rolled out nationally, the NHS has announced.
The Real Time Exemption Checking (RTEC) service lets the pharmacy team see if a patient needs to pay for their prescription when it is dispensed, saving time and helping patients claim free prescriptions correctly. Currently, checks on exemptions are carried out by the pharmacist manually during dispensing.
Developed by NHS Digital and the NHS Business Services Authority, the system has been integrated and piloted in 40 pharmacies, and is now being expanded.
‘Customers and pharmacists have told us they welcome an automated check being made in the pharmacy when claiming free prescriptions,’ said Alison O’Brien, Head of Exemption Checking Services at the NHS Business Services Authority. ‘We’re pleased that the pilot was such a success, and now more pharmacies and customers will be able to benefit from the advantages of real time checking.’
The system aims to help the NHS become more efficient by making sure free prescriptions can be validated easily in the pharmacy. According to NHS Digital, an average of two minutes per request is saved when an exemption is confirmed digitally, which has so far saved over 4,500 hours of pharmacy staff time.
‘It is great to be able to build on the success of electronic prescription service in this way, improving the service for patients and driving efficiencies in prescription processing,’ said Ian Lowry, Director of Product Development at NHS Digital.
‘The service is now being rolled out to more pharmacies, and other dispensing system suppliers are expected to develop their RTEC systems throughout the year.’