In a bid to improve information sharing between pharmacies and GP practices, NHS Digital is rolling out electronic notifications to inform GPs when one of their patients receives an urgent supply of medicine from a community pharmacy.
EMIS Health has trialled a secure digital messaging via PharmOutcomes directly into GPs’ EMIS Web clinical systems which enable information about patient services provided by the pharmacist to be embedded into the patient’s GP record.
PharmOutcomes, a secure web-based management platform to record and manage patient services, is making the processing of payments for commissioned services faster and simpler, while helping reduce errors and freeing up pharmacists to spend more time with patients.
Shanel Raichura, senior clinical director at EMIS Health said: “Community pharmacists will be on the frontline again in what is certain to be another very busy winter for the NHS. This, coupled with the government’s plans for mass flu vaccination, means they will need all the help they can get, and I’m proud that our integrated systems are already helping to take some of the pressure off.”
NHS Digital said the two largest GP systems – EMIS web and TPP SystmOne, and pharmacy systems Pinnacle PharmOutcomes and Sonar Informatics, are now live.
Electronic notifications are currently in use for the urgent supply of medicines made as part of the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) and pharmacy administered flu vaccinations. They are sent automatically from pharmacies and received by GP practices as a workflow task in their clinical system.
Some GP systems can receive structured information, which means details can be added directly to a patient’s record, without the need to transcribe them manually. Practices still receive the full details of the urgent supply in a PDF document so they can add any additional information to the record if necessary.
Chris Bland, area manager for Kamsons Pharmacy in Leeds, said: “The advantage of the integration between PharmOutcomes and ProScript Connect is that it automatically administers the payments for commissioned services. We’re saving hours a week of time that staff used to spend on processing payments. It means we are better able to utilise staff because it’s quicker and more streamlined.”
The system has also enabled pharmacists to identify patients who were shielding due to Covid-19, to make sure they received prescriptions safely, and processed payments for delivering prescription medication to them at home if family or volunteers could not do it.
Bland added: “I can see this coming into its own for vaccinations during flu season, when it will be a lot easier for us to input the flu data, so it gets to the GP surgery quicker. It also eliminates the risk of inputting incorrect data and helps prevents errors.”
The content of the electronic notification is based on the pharmacy information flows data standard which has been developed in partnership with the Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB).
The PRSB worked with clinicians from across primary care to develop and endorse the standard which covers vaccinations, urgent supply of medicines and other community pharmacy services.
Ian Lowry, the director of Medication, Social Care, Child Health and Maternity at NHS Digital, said: “This latest stage in the rollout means that a number of GP practices and community pharmacies in England are able to benefit from electronic notifications rather than the current method of email or paper.
“This saves time for both pharmacy and GP practice staff and supports integrated working between care settings when patients need to access essential medicines in an emergency.”
Dr Masood Nazir, the director of Digital Primary Care at NHSX, said: “The urgent supply of medicines should be as straightforward as possible for patients, GP practice and pharmacy staff, particularly during the pandemic and as we look towards winter.
“By sending notifications electronically, we will make life easier for the staff at local pharmacies and family doctors and increase safety for patients, which is arguably more important than ever – this is why we have commissioned NHS Digital to accelerate this important work.”