An electronic system that lets pharmacies see if a patient is eligible for free prescriptions is being rolled out nationally by the NHS.
Time is being saved and patients helped by a new service called The Real Time Exemption Checking (RTEC). This service allows pharmacists to check if a patient needs to pay for their prescription, or whether they qualify to get their medication for free. Pharmacists have to check exemptions manually, but this will change once the RTEC is in full effect.
The NHS Business Services and NHS Digital developed RTEC and have already piloted the service in 40 pharmacies. The system is being supplied by Positive Solutions, and the NHS is aiming for it to be used across England.
Patients can do the following with the implementation of RTEC:
- They can easily confirm whether they are exempt from paying for their prescriptions.
- If they didn’t previously know they are eligible for free prescriptions, they would save money.
- They will spend less time at the pharmacy because they wouldn’t need to check the status of their eligibility for free prescriptions.
Free prescriptions can easily be validated in the pharmacy thanks to RTEC and is helping the NHS become more efficient. Since the implementation of the service, 4,500 hours of pharmacy staff time has been saved, as 2minutes are being saved per prescription as it can be digitally verified.
RTEC currently cover tax credit exemptions, low income scheme, medical, and maternity and prescription prepayment certificates. Prescriptions are being sent by the Electronic Prescription Service which applies to this service.
Alison O’Brien, Head of Exemption Checking Services at the NHS Business Services Authority, said: “Customers and pharmacists have told us they welcome an automated check being made in the pharmacy when claiming free prescriptions. 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.”
Ian Lowry, Director of Product Development at NHS Digital, said: “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.”
More pharmacies are receiving this service, and RTEC systems are being expected to be developed by other dispensing system suppliers.