NHS England has commissioned the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSN) to roll out its Transfers of Care Around Medicines (TCAM) programme to 50% of trusts in England by the end of 2020.
The programme, which was first piloted in 2014 and now runs in several NHS trusts across England, connects hospital and community pharmacy IT systems, enabling hospital trusts to send online messages to community pharmacists through PharmOutcomes to identify patients who may need extra help taking new medicines after leaving hospital.
According to the AHSN website, the TCAM programme will save the NHS £28.8m in 2019/2020, based on a reduction in length of hospital stay “of 113,406 days and 2,007 fewer readmissions”.
Clare Howard, clinical lead for medicines optimisation at Wessex AHSN, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that, while TCAM has been launched in some trusts in each of the 15 AHSN networks across England, NHS England has commissioned AHSN “to ensure that [TCAM] is up and running in 50% of trusts” by 2020.
“Obviously what happens after [the 2020 deadline] is up to NHS England because they commissioned us to deliver this roll-out so it may be that we go a bit further.
“We’ll have to wait and see what is in the community pharmacy contract to know what the future holds,” she added.
Howard went on to explain that NHS trusts involved with the scheme use a “message broker … that sucks out the data that’s just related to [patient] medicines” and sends this “through PharmOutcomes to the community pharmacy”.
“The pharmacies are told to look on PharmOutcomes about once a day just to check whether they’ve had any referrals,” she added.
She added that the technology behind TCAM is “linked” to guidance published by the Professional Record Standards Body on 29 April 2019, which establishes how pharmacists, hospitals and GPs should record data about patients’ medicines so that it can be shared between care settings.
According to Howard, 55,000 patients have been referred to community pharmacy by hospitals after discharge in the past year, of which 33,000 have been acted on by a community pharmacy.
A study of TCAM during its pilot in two hospital sites at Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust covering 207 pharmacies in Newcastle found that 2,029 patients were referred over a 13-month period in 2014 and 2015, with 31% of these patients followed up for a consultation in community pharmacy.