I am in need of software which can act as a printer and allow me to insert the information into a database. The problem is in Pharmacy in uk the prescription info is encoded so we can’t get to it for security reasons prior to it being sent to the printer. We would like to get the data and insert it into a database so we can streamline our ordering and as the format of the data will be the same we would like to automate the process. We just need to streamline the gathering of the info , we can get to it once it’s printed but this is time and labour intensive.

Thanks in advance. Ps programming isn’t a skill I have had the chance to develop so if you could answer the questions as if responding to a 5 year old please.

  • 2
    The biggest problem is that if you succeed in doing this you will be committing a criminal offence under both UK and EU law. You will be capturing privileged information without authorization. This is the reason that the pharmacy information is encoded in the first place. If you have a genuine reason to need to do this then contact the NHS IT team to see about getting an authorized, encrypted database application. Jan 23, 2019 at 21:17
  • Well not quite, the privileged information is printed from the printer anyway so it’s privaleged for my use. The information is captured a few minutes after printing in our current process by the record system. All we are trying to do is streamline the data process so there is less input manually. Jan 24, 2019 at 15:21

3 Answers 3


Your question is tagged “windows”, so I’m hoping you’re using Microsoft Windows as your operating system. If that’s the case, you could use a printer driver such as LEADTOOLS ePrint to capture the print jobs and obtain text from them. (Disclaimer: I am an employee of the vendor of ePrint). Most Windows programs send print jobs in one of 2 ways: either as actual text, or as images of text. If the program you’re printing from uses one of these 2 ways, ePrint could help you as follows:

  1. If the printout contains actual text, simply instruct ePrint to save the print jobs as plain text files. Any text in the printed pages can then be extracted by you to use as you desire.
  2. If the printout contains images of text rather than actual text, you will need to use the OCR feature of ePrint. OCR (Optical Character Recognition) can convert images to text, then the output can be saved as plain text like method 1 above.

If you want automatic insertion into your database system, I don’t think any ready solution can do that, and you might have to employ a programmer to use a tool such as the LEADTOOLS virtual printer module. However, my recommendation is to try the free evaluation of ePrint Professional first to see if the text files are enough for your needs.


You can archive it but you need a huge effort in resources, time and money.

What you are looking for is called Homomorphic encryption: it allows you to deal with encrypted data without decrypting them.

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The architecture of what you want is quite peculiar and I don't think there is a software out there that could fit your needs. That's why you need to write one!

As @SteveBernes said you need to avoid to incur in a criminal offence.

The data needs to flow from the database to the printer encrypted. But pharmacy employees also need to insert data into a database.

As you tagged Windows I can suggest you SQL Server Always Encrypted. Show this link to an IT guy, in this page there is also an example of an application that could deal with encrypted data.

Good luck, this will be expensive.


If the program sends actual text to the print as pointed out by @Amin you can install a PDF printer sent it to PDF, and then use another program to extract the data.

PDFCreator by https://www.pdfforge.org/

Then if you can highlight select the text, then it is not an image. If the whole page highlights no matter how little you select it is likely an image needing OCR.

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