19th February 2018
Many of you are emailing us asking where the new version of the Dimec App is and how you can chose your local pharmacy. Here’s a rather detailed explanation of the issues we’re facing and what we’re doing to try and sort them out.
Firstly, thank you for taking the time to read this article; we really appreciate it! We’ll start with how the App works and then explain what is missing & why.
Dimec communicates with GP Surgeries & numerous other systems through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). There are a few different GP systems that NHS Digital contracts to supply certain services in England and your actual GP can chose whichever one of these he/she would like. The three main companies are EMIS; TPP SystmOne (yes it’s spelt without the “e”) & Vision.
Importantly, each GP system has a separate API, so for Dimec to talk to your GP it also talks to the others: so it’s like 3+ apps in one.
The ability to pair with the GP systems is locked-in; very closely monitored and assured by NHS Digital; they oversee the process and it takes a very long time: years in fact.
However, each GP system has a slightly different API meaning functionality is different for each GP system.
The current EMIS API does NOT allow Dimec to confirm & update your electronic Pharmacy nomination where as Vision & TPP do. This means that if we were to turn on all pharmacies right now the app couldn’t actually control/confirm that your prescription would go to the pharmacy you selected.
So in the interests of safety we’ve been running a pilot whereby Live Pharmacies have to have access to a Dimec system to monitor orders and manually adjust nominations in other software. Due to the manual part of this process, we can’t turn on all 11,500 pharmacies in one go. But we do reach out to pharmacy and enable any pharmacy that gets in touch, please see below.
When will EMIS update their API?
The update has been promised to NHS Digital since early 2016. We’ve been promised numerous dates since but we were promised, with considerable confidence, December 2017. This is why we released the updated website and were so looking forward to sharing the new App and all its extra new functionality with everyone.
However, EMIS told us earlier this month that there are no timescales for the release – NHS Digital are aware of this new delay too. Dimec has coded the functionality in secure test environments so we know the code works and NHS Digital approves the update however we have no idea when we’ll be able to push it live.
When will my pharmacy be added?
Dimec uses another NHS API to get an always-up to date list of pharmacies; their locations & contact details. We’ve been ready to enable this for many months however we can’t until EMIS update their API so we can confirm your prescription will actually go to your chosen pharmacy.
What are Dimec doing about it?
We’re doing all that we can including raising the situation at a Ministerial level & with numerous people in NHS England; however EMIS is a private company and thus the NHS/HM Government have little capacity to force their hand.
What can I do in the meantime?
We’ve added an Online Pharmacy called PillTime that is legally certified to post medicines. This is at no extra cost and is a temporary measure to allow patients anywhere to chose a pharmacy to have their medicines delivered even if their local pharmacy isn’t on the app.
However, please do ask your pharmacy to get in touch with us and we’ll gladly show them the system and get them on the app so they can appear for you, and every other patient to chose. Dimec is completely free for your pharmacy so we will gladly add your local pharmacy, all they need to do is get in touch.
Thanks again to everyone who is bearing with us as we battle uphill with this. We would really appreciate it if you completed this 4-question, anonymous survey so we can accurately see for how many people this is an issue:
We really want to deliver a best in class digital service to every patient, irrespective of the pharmacy they use.
We want to support Community Pharmacy and enable them to offer a truly digital service in the 21st Century!