The new Distance Selling Pharmacy Websites Regulations come into effect on both January 1st and then April 1st, 2021. What do the regulations mean for you? We break everything down so you understand what you need to do.
We’re working in collaboration with Rushport Advisory, a leading consulting firm covering the pharmacy market. They have helped us curate this article and are guiding us to deliver the most robust and legally compliant distance selling pharmacy website on the market.
What do the new regulations say?
The exact wording for the Distance Selling Pharmacy Website Regulations are as follows:
28B An NHS pharmacist in respect of distance selling premises must ensure that there are arrangements in place at those premises which enable a person performing pharmaceutical services to communicate confidentially with a person accessing pharmaceutical services—
(a) by telephone or another live audio link; and
(b) via a live video link.”
This regulation is effective from January 1st, 2021.
28C “An NHS pharmacist (P) in respect of distance selling premises must ensure that P has a website for use by the public for the purpose of accessing pharmaceutical services from those premises, on which there is an interactive page, clearly promoted to any user of the website when they first access it, which provides public access to a reasonable range of up to date materials that promote healthy lifestyles by addressing a reasonable range of health issues.
This regulation comes into effect on April 1st, 2021.
What does that mean for you?
A closer look at 28B
Most pharmacies already have a telephone line and internet access already. But the requirement of confidentiality from the pharmacy premises means you need an area where a member of the pharmacy staff cannot be overheard when communicating with patients.
As well as communicating by phone (or an “audio link”), note the regulations state AND via a “live video link”. This means you need to have both options available. This is fairly straightforward to implement provided you have a laptop and internet connection through apps like Zoom, Teams or Skype.
A closer look at 28C
This regulation is a little bit trickier to get into place and is also quite vague. Terms like you must provide access to a “reasonable range” of up-to-date materials clearly depends on who you are reasoning with.
The local NHS area teams ultimately will decide and so it’s likely to be their standards you must match. But don’t try and match the requirements. Blow them out of the water. The difference isn’t big between the two and will ultimately benefit your business anyway.
Here’s everything you need to comply with Regulation 28C
Most DSP’s still do not have a website, believe it or not. If you’re operating without one, you need to get one.
An “interactive page”
A website that doesn’t have interactive pages is known as a “brochure website” because it performs in the exact same way as a brochure or leaflet. That is to say, it doesn’t really do anything other than display information. An interactive web page makes the user actively engage with the site (think links to other resources.)
The interactive page must be “clearly promoted” to any user of the website when they land on your site. This is another term in the regulations that is open to interpretation with both terms.
What does clearly mean?
It could just be that you don’t hide links to the page within a huge body of text (though it’s unclear why you’d ever do that.)
In which case, having it as part of the “menu” of your website, accessible on every page would meet that requirement.
What does promoted mean?
Do you have to draw attention to it? If so, a banner on every page encouraging visitors to the interactive page would meet the requirements.
It’s highly unlikely that the regulatory teams will nit-pick, provided you show them a modern website with a great user experience (ie. it’s intuitive) and up-to-date information (rather than NHS regulations from 2013 – we’ll talk about that now).
A good range of health content
This is where you may get frustrated. Creating content is a time-consuming process when you’re not familiar with it. Naturally, you want to be doing other things with your time. Outsourcing this work will save you a headache. We can help you with this (and the whole project) in a cost-effective way because we live and breathe health content and create pharmacy websites every day.
It’s tempting to simply copy and paste content from other pharmacy websites, but resist this temptation. Copied and pasted content is traceable and you could find yourself in breach of copyright laws with regards to someone’s intellectual property.
Embrace the compliance, improve your service
The crux of the new regulations is there’s no hiding as a product-only pharmacy, where you do little more than package prescriptions. Offering a channel of communication for consultation with the patients using your service is now mandatory.
You’re expected to carry this into your website. It can’t be just a prescription production line anymore.
We mentioned this before, but ultimately these Distance Selling Pharmacy website regulations improve your service to patients. That isn’t something to begrudge, but something to embrace. Realise that with an amazing website that is simple for your patients to use, those same patients will show you more loyalty.
Looking for help in meeting the new Distance Selling Pharmacy website regulations?
Please get in touch with us. As we offer website services almost exclusively to pharmacies, we have all the knowledge already of what you’ll need to get set up.
We’ll be glad to help.