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Key Words

Improve customer experience with automated polling for nominated electronic prescriptions

Requests for nominated EPS prescriptions can now be scheduled for any time

The Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) uses a request/response messaging pattern to download nominated prescriptions from the NHS Spine. Functional requirements due to technical constraints within the original Spine architecture (circa 2005) prevented the automated polling of nominated prescriptions during normal working hours. The relevant section within the currently published version of the EPS Dispensing Compliance Specification v5.4 is Section 6.5.2 (page 41).

With the current Spine architecture such constraints are no longer required. As of July 2016, dispensing systems can request prescriptions at any time, including scheduled polling for nominated prescriptions, subject to two constraints;

  1. Polling must not be more frequent than every 2 minutes
  2. When the response returns no available prescriptions then the system must wait at least 2 minutes before polling again.

Dispensing system suppliers who wish to implement polling functionality can do so without the need for additional NHS Digital assurance. A Supplier Change Note (SCN) must be submitted so that NHS Digital is aware of the change. Once implemented, the schedule configured for polling can be changed without need to notify NHS Digital.

Implementation Guidance

Dispensing system suppliers should consider what the optimum frequency of scheduled polling would be for their customers, or make the configuration of scheduling customer specific.

There is little point scheduling frequent polling overnight as there are few prescribers working during such hours so few new prescriptions will be available. A manually triggered request for prescriptions will always be available to the pharmacy user when required.

Polling to the maximum allowed frequency of every 2 minutes may not be technically appropriate for local infrastructure. Customers would not want automated polling to visibly slow down user-facing aspects of the system.

Suppliers are reminded that the EPS will return up to 25 nominated prescriptions in every nominated response messaging interaction. If less than 25 prescriptions are returned this does not always mean that all available prescriptions have been downloaded. When no more nominated prescriptions are available the EPS will respond with a “PrescriptionReleaseRejection” message using the “Prescription Release Rejection Reason” of 0006.