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Digital interactive TV based repeat prescriptions service goes live

EMIS : 12 May, 2008  (New Product)
DigiTV, through the Looking Local portal, in collaboration with EMIS is offering a free repeat prescriptions service following the national launch of GP appointment booking through digital interactive TV and mobile phones in 2007.
The new service means that millions of patients can now request repeat prescriptions without ever visiting the doctor’s surgery using digital interactive TV or their mobile phone.

Around 1,400 surgeries using EMIS software representing more than eight million patients can now offer repeat prescription ordering through interactive TV, mobile phones and the internet, in addition to patient management of GP appointments through these channels.

The prescription service was previously only available over the Internet; more than 135,000 patients actively use the online system for repeat prescription requests and GP appointment booking.

More than 70 per cent of all prescriptions signed off by GPs are repeat requests for patients who have ongoing health issues; the process is time-consuming for all involved.

Benefits of the repeat prescription system are realised all the way down the line. Patients particularly those housebound or busy working - benefit from not having to go to the surgery. Practice staff spend less time with repeat prescription paperwork and the doctor is notified electronically to accept or reject the application, increasing efficiency in the surgery.

Steve Langrick, business strategy and access manager at Kirklees Council with responsibility for Looking Local said; “Offering repeat prescriptions to complement GP appointments was a natural step towards extending our health related services and yet again demonstrates our ongoing commitment to providing locally relevant e-enabled services, extending the convenience of this access to benefit more people.”

“Efficient access to health related services is important to so many people and any time that can be freed-up through developments such as repeat prescriptions allows for that time to be re-invested for the benefit of patients.”

Once registered for the service with their EMIS surgery, patients can request the prescription in real time. They can also use Looking Local to track the prescription(s) application and status of their request from the order date, in addition to any non-repeat prescriptions on order. With each prescription request, patients can use a message facility to contact the doctor with any queries.

The Kakoty Practice in Barnsley was one of the first in the UK to introduce GP appointment booking via digital interactive television. Dr Prakash Kakoty said: “The system has delivered many benefits to the practice and, of course, to patients, for whom it offers the ultimate in convenience.”

“Extending the service to include repeat prescriptions is a fantastic development, especially for patients coping with long-term conditions that require constant medication.”

Sean Riddell, Healthcare managing director of EMIS, said: “This is a great example of how partnerships between different technology providers can improve healthcare delivery.”

'By enabling our systems to link up with the Looking Local portal, we will help thousands more patients to enjoy the benefits of these pioneering free services.”

With more homes now having access to digital TV than the internet, DiTV and mobile phones are key channels for government service delivery in general, but particularly to those with no internet access or PC skills who often have a higher usage of government services. Currently 56 percent of homes have access to digital interactive TV and over 85 per cent of the adult population owns a mobile phone.

With the analogue switchover programme already underway in Whitehaven and more people understanding what DiTV can offer them besides additional channels, Looking Local is experiencing record usage as people switch on and tune in to locally and personally relevant services.

Looking Local is accessible for free on Sky, Virgin and Freeview boxes with a modem or broadband connections. For those patients on the move, the portal is available on mobile phones that allow browsing and access to the internet (the cost for access is variable depending on the operator and package).

The argument for moving forward on these channels is driven by the significant digital divide that is faced in the UK. There is an obligation on all service providers to involve members of the public and enable them to receive services via a wide range of channels.

A significant minority in the UK lack access or the skills to use a PC and the internet. This has created an increasingly divisive situation where those without the access or the skills are at a distinct disadvantage to those that do. Efficiencies can be made on many levels and giving equal access to e-Government services so that patients can contact their surgery when it suits them means that there is fairer access for all.
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