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Feature

NHS pharmaceutical messaging service

Posted on: 11 May 05

Summary

New on-line system for hospital pharmacies makes ordering medicines easier, quicker and, being paperless, virtually error-free.

The Agency has supported the development of the NHS Pharmaceutical Messaging Service, a pilot scheme which aims to streamline the supply of medicines to England’s hospitals.

The project pinpointed efficiencies and is delivering savings through the introduction of an electronic ordering, information and invoicing system for hospital pharmacies.

The Agency has supported the development of the NHS Pharmaceutical Messaging Service, a pilot scheme which aims to streamline the supply of medicines to England’s hospitals.

The project pinpointed efficiencies and is delivering savings through the introduction of an electronic ordering, information and invoicing system for hospital pharmacies.

Streamlining pharmacy ordering

Hospital pharmacies in England place some 160,000 orders a month for medicines, from everyday aspirin to highly specialised drugs such as TB-fighter, Pyrazinamide. As most hospitals have 200 to 300 different pharmaceutical suppliers, hospital pharmacy departments have devoted a lot of time and paper to faxing individual orders, checking order status and handling invoices. Pharmacy systems have evolved to fit each individual hospital’s needs for stock control, labelling, dispensing and usage so that today, England’s hospital trusts operate with a dozen or so different pharmacy systems and a confusing range of product coding and categorisation structures. Systems are therefore incompatible and the computer language pharmacist and supplier use is not always understood.

The new service usese-technology which allows hospital and supplier computer systems to communicate. By using the service, hospitals can send their orders electronically and suppliers can receive and read the order, regardless of the message format they themselves operate. Any pharmaceutical company can now receive an electronic order from any pharmacy system and in turn can send back electronic invoices to the trust. Confirmation messages are sent so pharmacists can be confident that their electronic orders have arrived successfully and that the goods will be sent by the supplier in a timely manner.

Pilot sees growth in e-trading

The system currently deals with over 150 suppliers. For some trusts this is more than 60% of their ordering workload. It is vital that the orders are sent error-free without mistakes which could have a dangerous impact on clinical efficiency and patient care. As a result, e-trading has grown significantly. Every month, six or seven new trusts and suppliers register to use the system. During 2005/06 costs to upgrade hospital systems will be relatively modest and monthly operational costs may be capped at £100 per trust. More information can be seen by downloading a monthly newsletter from the NHS Pharmaceutical Messaging Service website via the link from www.pasa.nhs.uk/ecommerce/ pharmamessaging

Mike Wood

Last updated on: 27/08/2010 11:40:18

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