The Problem

  • 43% of the population are reliant on repeat prescriptions
  • This costs the NHS almost £8 billion a year (the single largest cost after staff)
  • Managing repeat prescriptions online saves GPs six hours and 40 minutes a week on paperwork

Things to consider

  • Any new feature should reduce practice admin, not increase it
  • A service which connects to the patient record would improve the experience but is much more complex to deliver
  • Particular components (such as open text fields) would require monitoring for patient safety

Once I felt I had a fairly strong understanding of the limitation and constraints, I started to draw up a proposed journey. This is a simple success flow, which shows a registered patient logging into Doctorlink and re-ordering medication for an existing repeat prescription.

I shared these ideas with our Clinical Governance Team, Product Manager and Engineering Team. This highlighted some important things that I hadn't considered;

  • What happens if a patient's record doesn't contain all of their current repeat prescriptions?
  • How should a patient review their previous orders?
  • How should we show the status of an existing order?
  • How should we differentiate existing medication orders and new medication requests?


In order to validate or disprove any assumptions I tested an initial prototype with 10 patients who expressed an interest in using a digital service to manage their repeat prescriptions.


Some interesting learnings came from the testing:

  • Patients need a clear indication of when a repeat prescription is ready to collect
  • It's not clear enough how or when the patient would be contacted
  • Patients want reminders about when to re-order medication
  • Patients need reassurance that changing their nominated pharmacy isn’t a permanent change
  • The CTA “remove medication” made users anxious for the similar reasons

Updating design documentation

New components which have been approved for use in the new journey need to be added to our design documentation. This process ensures that the work is available for other designers but also helps to add context and detail for developers building the components.

The results

Our MVP only allows patients submit a request to their practice so they can re-order an existing repeat prescription. Our feature needs to connect directly with the patient record at their practice.

We already know that GP practices prefer solutions which create time and cost savings - this means reducing unnecessary touch-points with patients - but this MVP is currently creating administrative tasks for practice staff. They're required to review and escalate the requests which have been submitted to the practice inbox via email.

The uptake of the feature hasn't been as high as I'd hoped, so we're now looking to have the feature fully connected and surfaced via a practice portal managed directly by clinicians.