It's not just pharmacists who face problems with the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS), laments The Pharmacist's GP blogger Dr Livingstone

I thought nothing of it at first: just the odd patient swearing blind they’d not received my reminder for this blood pressure check, that cholesterol test or the other medication review. After all, they do this all the time – swearing blind, that is, whether it’s about smoking habits, alcohol intake or medication compliance.

But when the trickle became a flood, and my health centre colleagues began to notice the same thing, the truth dawned: patients were definitely not receiving those very clear and very necessary personalised messages we routinely send via Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) counterfoils.

This may not sound like a big deal. But it is. We’ve always used prescription counterfoils as a key means of communication with patients, and the concern that it might go horribly wrong was one of the reasons we were relatively slow in adopting EPS.

And now our worst fears are being proved correct. Our patients may suffer and, even worse, so might our Quality Outcomes Framework (QOF) or Directed Enhanced Service (DES) income, given the number of pleas for checks and monitoring that seem to be going unheeded/undelivered.

So why is this happening? We have come up with a number of theories, as follows:

  1. We’re not actually bothering to put these messages on the counterfoils, even though we say we are.
  2. We are putting the messages on, but we’re not doing it properly.
  3. The messages are somehow disappearing into the ether somewhere between practice and pharmacy.
  4. The patients aren’t noticing them.
  5. The patients are ignoring them.
  6. The pharmacist, through incompetence, laziness or petty vengeance (it is flu-fight season, after all), is not printing out the counterfoil.
  7. The pharmacist, because of some of the issues outlines in ‘6’ above, is printing off the counterfoil but is then tearing it up while laughing maniacally.

I won’t tell you which theory we favour. But I will tell you that we have invited our local pharmacist over for an urgent ‘chat’. Let’s hope they get the message.

What are your biggest gripes with EPS? Tweet us @Pharmacist_News to tell us your stories