NHS set to save millions on essential prescribing software


Better supplier terms on vital technology helps doctors prescribe correct medication, with launch of a new NHS Shared Business Services framework

The NHS will have the opportunity to save millions of pounds on important-but-traditionally-costly IT prescribing systems that help healthcare professionals to choose the correct and most-cost-effective medicines for patients, following the launch of a new procurement framework from NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS).

The new Medicines Management Prescribing Decision Support Systems Framework (MMDSS) is injecting healthy new competition into the market for the widely-used technology.

The prescribing systems help doctors, nurses and other clinical staff select the most-affordable and appropriate treatments for specific patients. NHS organisations can now choose to purchase either OptimiseRx or ScriptSwitch without the need to engage in complex and costly individual procurement exercises.

The technology, which is particularly important for patient safety, is now being made available at more-competitive rates and with improved contract terms through the shared services framework.

The new MMDSS framework was created after five clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) turned to NHS SBS to allow them to approach the market for a more-competitive service.

Each CCG from the collaborative across Central London, West London, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hounslow and Ealing, has now secured robust new terms and conditions with their chosen supplier as a result of the procurement work carried out by NHS SBS. This has helped the CCGs negotiate lower prices without the need to work through the complexities of European procurement regulations, which NHS SBS has completed on their behalf.

The result is a saving on software licenses of more than £60,000 a year for the CCGs. These benefits could now spread quickly across the NHS as a result of the MMDSS framework that was created by NHS SBS in parallel to the CCG procurements. This means that all NHS prescribing organisations now have a choice of competitive supplier and NHS favourable terms, without the need to run their own individual costly procurement exercises.

Thomas Slater, from the strategic procurement team at NHS Shared Business Services, said: “This is a great example of a real NHS collaboration that will help the wider NHS make significant savings on an important technology needed across the country.

“The five CCGs we have worked with are already reaping the benefits of supplier choice. Now the newly-launched Medicines Management Prescribing Decision Support Systems Framework will allow the wider NHS to achieve better prices, terms and greater choice from the market in the same way, without the need to conduct their own time-consuming and expensive competitions.”

Following a robust selection process led by clinical, prescribing and pharmaceutical specialists, NHS organisations are now able to choose to purchase OptimiseRx, supplied by First Databank Europe; or ScriptSwitch, supplied by Optum Health Solutions, through the framework, without the need to navigate OJEU procurement rules.

Medicines management prescribing decision support technology is providing NHS organisations with the ability to make major savings by choosing cost-effective treatments.

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The new framework agreement will also offer centralised and remote management of the profile of switch suggestions to deliver improved accuracy, visibility and consistency when prescribing. Linked with other systems, the technology makes suggestions and enables prescribers to switch easily to the suggested medicine, at an appropriate dose and frequency, if the switch suggestion is accepted.