First annual review for Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio in Wales

The Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio (DMTP) has published its first annual review, which marks progress on “one of the biggest changes to medicines prescribing, dispensing and administration in decades” for Wales.

Formed by the Welsh Government in April 2022, following an independent review of prescribing, the DMTP set out a digital medicines plan for Wales, designed to utilise digital ways of working to “transform the experience for patients and healthcare professionals” by replacing paper processes with digital solutions.

November 2023 saw the first electronic prescription using the electronic prescription service (EPS), with plans to roll out the service across Wales from early 2024. Since then, the DMTP has been working on delivering functionality including ePMA across hospitals, and building medicines functionality into the NHS Wales App.

Hamish Laing, DMTP senior responsible owner, said: “Medicines are a vitally important part of healthcare, at some point touching the lives of nearly every person living and working in Wales. Yet the way we manage medicines, largely using paper processes, has not changed significantly since the birth of the NHS in 1948.”

The review highlights key areas of progress including changes to the General Medical Services Contract from 1 October 2023, which now allow GPs to authorise prescriptions digitally; and the Primary Care EPS Programme Board’s approval of “cross-border community pharmacy nomination”, meaning prescriptions from GPs in Wales can be collected from pharmacies in England, and prescriptions from GPs in England can be collected from pharmacies in Wales.

On secondary care e-prescribing, the review notes progress including funding for every health board to prepare for the procurement of one of three approved supplier solutions, and the creation of “communities of practice for health professionals across Wales” which allow the sharing of learning across organisational boundaries. The ePMA project at Swansea Bay is anticipated to release up to 9,166 hours of time to care, and to produce a 10 percent reduction in medicine costs compared with the previous year.

On the shared medicines record, the review details progress including the completion of a technical proof of concept for data sharing, testing with the National Data Resource programme, and a period of user research which helped the team “build a picture of its overall purpose and the features it would need”.

On plans for the future, it includes use of EPS among early adopters from January, all University Health Boards and Velindre University NHS Trust completing procurement by Spring, the implementation of ePMA being “well underway” throughout the year, and the SMR being operational within the National Data Resource by the end of March.

To read the review in full, please click here.

In December, Digital Health and Care Wales opened a tender worth an estimated £20 million for the establishment of a framework agreement that will see DHCW take on an agile product delivery partner, with the aim of enabling specialist resources to be “called off as and when required to support DHCW and the Digital Services for Patients and the Public programme in delivering the NHS Wales App.”

This month, a contract valued at £5.19 million for non-clinical decision support software for NHS 111 Wales was awarded to US-based company, Priority Solutions Inc. The deal covers non-clinical decision support software to support non-clinical call handlers to take initial calls to the service.