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EPS nominations see pandemic rise

Electronic prescription service (EPS) nominations have jumped following the implementation of Covid-19 lockdown measures. The major online players have seen an uptick in nominations since mid-March, as pharmacists report GPs have been encouraging “just in case” nominations as part of their pandemic demand management.

Online pharmacies have been in demand as 1.5 million people are ‘shielded’, and with queueing and social distancing making a trip to a bricks and mortar pharmacy more time consuming. Demand was such that Echo, which is backed by Lloydspharmacy, stopped accepting new users and instituted a waiting list for a few days. Anecdotal reports say that others, including Pharmacy2U, have struggled to keep pace with the sudden spike in demand.

Figures collated by PharmData from NHS Business Services Agency data show that in the six weeks to 24 April Pharmacy2U saw an increase in EPS nominations of almost 17 per cent, from 411,000 to just under 480,000. P2U’s longterm growth rate of nominations is around 0.5 per cent a week. Echo saw its EPS nominations grow by over 50 per cent in the same period, from 112,000 to 169,000. Well.co.uk jumped by just over 46 per cent from 61,700 to more than 90,000 and Boots Leicester, which includes online, grew 112 per cent from just under 20,000 to more than 41,000.

Pharmacy2U has seen an increase in EPS nominations in the six weeks to 24 April of almost 17 per cent

The acceleration in nominations can be seen in the chart (above) of EPS nominations for the top six contractors over the past 10 weeks. [Note: Charter Healthcare and Script Easy are both dispensing appliance contractors. Growth in EPS nominations from their more stable customer bases have held steady over the period at around 0.3 per cent a week.]

Total EPS nominations for the period also took off suddenly in the middle of March. The longterm trend has seen nominations increasing at a steady rate of around 60,000 a week, to reach just under 34 million six weeks ago. Last week, total nominations topped 36.3 million.

Since this is a national trend, pharmacies who have noticed an increased number of patients signing up recently may or may not have gained market share. The average percentage growth in the total number of nominations during March was 3.7 per cent.

The percentage increase in March for some key groups of pharmacies can be found in the bar chart (left). PharmData combines official statistics with advanced technology to monitor pharmacy performance of key service and business indicators at store level. 




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