Boots UK supremo Seb James has said better sharing of patient data between community pharmacy and the NHS could transform the way healthcare services are delivered in the country.
Speaking at a Digital Health Rewired event in London on Tuesday (14 March), he spoke of a recent study by Imperial College London which found that customer loyalty card data could be an early predictor of ovarian cancer.
The study tracked the spending of consenting Boots Advantage Card holders to investigate a link between a diagnosis of ovarian cancer and a pattern of buying over-the-counter pain and indigestion medications.
The managing director of Boots UK & ROI said: “Just as we can advise our customers which skincare product might be suitable for them – patient care should be personalised and seamless, offering complete continuity between hospital, GPs and the local pharmacy.
“Not only would this take critical strain out of the NHS system, but it would also crucially make it easier for patients to get access to the care and services they need. One way to help facilitate this is the better sharing of patient data between community pharmacy and the NHS. With patient consent, better data sharing could transform the way healthcare services are delivered.”
Boots is also planning to launch a new private pilot diabetes screening tests from May in seven stores across Manchester, London and Birmingham, cities with the most prevalence of diabetes case, with the possibility of spreading it across more stores next year.
James, who believes diabetes could be a particularly suitable area to benefit from greater data sharing between community pharmacy and the NHS, said that Boots could deliver these tests on behalf of the NHS and welcomes conversations with national and local service commissioners.
He said: “There are currently around 850,000 people living with undiagnosed diabetes and we want to help address that. As well as having community pharmacies like Boots perform screening tests, there could be an expanded role for diabetes management in community pharmacy.
“Our pharmacy team members could support with checks when patients collect their medicines and feed this information back to their GP via their patient record. That could be really powerful.”
James also revealed that Boots was extending its partnership with Our Future Health – a project that aims to create one of the most detailed pictures ever of people’s health to help transform the prevention, detection and treatment of diseases.
In a press release, Boots said since last year it has been raising awareness among its Advantage Card members to attract volunteers to take part in the initiative. During a pilot in 10 stores, Boots helped facilitate the recruitment of over 10,000 volunteers since last summer. The partnership which is now being extended to a further 10 stores this month will get another 70 stores to sign up by the end of the year.
Currently, community pharmacies in England do not have full read and write access to NHS patient health records.