NHS England announced recently a new £260 million NHS technology fund.

The fund will be available to NHS providers to support the move from paper-based systems for patient notes and prescriptions to integrated electronic care records and the development of e-prescribing and e-referral systems.

Electronic care records should reduce the necessity for patients to repeat their medical history over and over again – sometimes in the same hospital – because the clinician does not have access to their records. This should improve patient experience and also save clinicians’ time.

In addition, studies suggest that electronic prescribing can cut prescription errors by up to 50%, so a move in this direction is certainly to be applauded.

Commissioners should ensure that contracts provide for the possible transition to e-prescribing. In addition, commissioners may also want to reserve the right to revise KPI’s in the event that e-prescribing is adopted within the Contract duration. Estimates suggest errors may occur in as many as 8% of hospital prescriptions and any KPIs built around such figures may need to be reduced if this should fall by 50% with the advent of e-prescribing.