The resubmissions, or “refer back process”, whereby prescription applications are sent back to pharmacies for more information before payment is processed by the NHS, will be available online at the start of the next financial year, Susannah Clapcott, NHS BSA operational readiness manager for prescriptions, told C+D last week (September 10).
It follows a pilot of the system, named ‘Manage Your Submissions’, in 80 pharmacies across the UK which began in September 2017, she explained.
The new online system will be an alternative to the current version – where a handwritten cover letter is sent by post to pharmacies detailing the information that needs to be clarified.
However, the paper system will remain in place for pharmacies who do not wish to switch, as the online system will not be mandatory, Ms Clapcott stressed. There will also a “method” in place to ensure payments are not duplicated.
Payments “won’t be faster”
“We’re not promising faster payment,” Ms Clapcott stressed. However, the system will “guarantee that there are no delays to the payment and give [pharmacies] the ability to track it”, she told C+D.
“Because of the way it is at the moment, relying on post and then posting it back, sometimes pharmacists get paid a month or two in arrears. We think this will free up more time if they’re not dealing with paperwork, making better use of their time so they’re not bogged down by admin, so they can get back to their patients.”
By April, pharmacies will get a link to join the new returns system by NHS email, as well as information on how to use the service.
Ms Clapcott said the pilot pharmacies found the new system “works well and is easy to use”. However after feedback found 20% of pharmacists had “real issues” with accessing the system via smartcards, pharmacists will also be able to login from any computer with a username and password.
Monthly submissions next to be piloted
NHS BSA also hopes to make monthly prescription submissions digital, and will begin a trial in the existing pilot group at the end of September, Ms Clapcott said.
It follows the move to online submission of flu vaccination claims for the 2018-19 season.
NHS BSA plans to have all the new digital services “live and available” for every pharmacy to sign up to by April 2019, Ms Clapcott added.