English community pharmacists’ experiences of using electronic transmission of prescriptions: a qualitative study
1 The Department of Practice and Policy UCL School of Pharmacy, Mezzanine Floor, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, UK
2 The Centre for Medication Safety and Service Quality, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:435 doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-435Published: 23 October 2013
The Electronic Prescription Service Release 2 (EPS2) in England has been designed to provide electronic transmission of digitally-signed prescriptions between primary care providers, with the intent on removing the large amounts of paper currently exchanged. As part of a wider evaluation of the EPS service, we wished to explore pharmacists’ experience with the new system and their perceptions of its benefits and any associated problems.
We conducted semi-structured telephone interviews with community pharmacists using EPS2. We used a purposive sampling technique to obtain views from pharmacists working in pharmacies with a range of sizes and locations and to include both independent pharmacies and multiples. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded using grounded theory to identify the main factors that have influenced deployment and implementation in the eyes of respondents. QSR Nvivo was used as to aid in this process.
It became apparent from the analysis that respondents perceived a wide range of advantages of EPS including improved safety, stock control, time management and improved relationships between pharmacy and General Practice staff. Respondents did not perceive a large difference in terms of work processes or development of their professional role. A large number of problems had been experienced in relation to both the technology itself and the way it was used by General Practices. It became apparent that work-around procedures had been developed for dealing with these issues but that not all these problems were perceived as having been addressed sufficiently at source. This sometimes had implications for the extent of EPS2 use and also limited some of the potential advantages of the EPS2 system, such as reduced effort in the management of prescription reimbursement. Respondents made suggestions for future improvements to EPS2. While interview data demonstrated that there were some feedback procedures in place, these were not regarded as being sufficient by the majority of respondents.
Whilst pharmacists perceived a wide range of benefits of EPS, a large number of problems had been experienced. Despite these difficulties, no pharmacists expressed an overall negative view.