In the meantime, in your sites, we can stipulate whether a surgery allows you to pass on a request from a customer or whether the customer must order from the surgery directly. If the latter, your site won't let the customers order unless they confirm that they have already requested the items from their surgery; kind of like on old fashioned prescription pick-up request; where the customer ordered the prescription from their GP and you collected the paper script
Customers and pharmacies can still get alot of value out of online ordering on your pharmacy sites.
It's a nicer user experience (2 of the 3 main surgery systems have pretty dire user interfaces) for customers
They get reminders so they don't order late (resulting in less last minute rushes for you)
You know what they have requested from their GP so you can chase up items that aren't uploaded to the spine and/or let the customer know if they have speak to their GP.
Customers still get updated by you with their order progress so your online ordering works as people have come to expect (think about your own experience of ordering anything online - the merchants don't expect you to call them to find what's happening, they just update you).
Customers don't have the frustrating experience of getting your engaged tone over and over again on busy pharmacy days.
Most pharmacies find they save 2 to 3 phone calls per internet request. If they are talking to customers as we recommend in our pharmacy traing and getting customer names and email addresses, most pharmacies get a couple of hundred people signed up fairly quickly and save between 400 and 600 phone calls per month.
Beyond the operational benefits and not ceding too much control to GPs (not all but plenty do indulge in direction) there are some other business benefits to pharmacies in getting customers signed up:
Keeping existing customers - if you are already offering a convenient online service, they have no reason to sign up with a different pharmacy that starts advertising their convenient online service as Boots and Lloyds etc will inevitably do.
Lockin: as easy as we make it, it still a little bit of a faff for someone to enter all their items and setup reminders; the last thing people want to do to is to go through all that again on some other pharmacy site unless they get seriouly cheesed off.
Stickiness: it gets people using your site once every month or two months so they are going to see other services, offers you are trying to promote and customers get 2-3 emails from you every month or two, again opportunities to promote other services, offers etc