E-referrals to community pharmacy might reduce hospital readmissions

Researchers say electronic referral systems that allow communication with community pharmacists could improve the coordination of care when patients are discharged from hospital.

Community pharmacist looking at a patient's information on a pharmacy computer

Continuity of care when patients transfer between care settings has been identified as a national priority. But peer-reviewed research assessing the efficacy of transfer of care initiatives involving community pharmacists in the UK is lacking.

Reporting in BMJ Open
(14 October 2016), researchers evaluated an electronic referral system used by two hospitals in Newcastle-upon-Tyne that allows staff to transfer patients’ medicines records to a nominated community pharmacy for follow-up.

In the first 13 months of the service, 2,029 inpatients were referred but only 619 (31%) completed a follow-up consultation. However, the team found that patients who did attend a follow-up were significantly less likely to be readmitted to hospital at 30, 60 and 90 days after discharge.

The authors say the results support the feasibility of electronic referral systems for improving the coordination of care for patients transitioning to the community.


[1] Nazar H, Brice S, Akhter N et al. New transfer of care initiative of electronic referral from hospital to community pharmacy in England: a formative service evaluation. BMJ Open 2016; 6: e012532. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-012532.

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, November 2016, Vol 8, No 11;8(11):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20201896

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