NHS Digital has published a new data standard aimed at improving communications between pharmacists and GPs.
The standard will allow community pharmacists to share information gathered from patients while providing services such as vaccinations, medicines and guidance with their GP in a digital format.
The standard, developed by the Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB), describes what information should be shared between healthcare professionals. NHS Digital has used it to develop technical requirements for IT suppliers to build computer systems which can send and receive structured messages with clinical information to be added to the patient’s GP record.
Pharmacists have repeatedly called for full read/write access to patient records, with pharmacy minister Steve Brine saying he “fully supported” the idea. However, an analysis carried out by The Pharmaceutical Journal revealed in October 2018 that more than 85% of community pharmacists do not access the summary care record over a typical week, with some pharmacy leaders accepting that this makes lobbying for full access more difficult.
In a statement, NHS Digital said it is working with IT system suppliers to start the process of implementing the technical requirements into its systems, with the pilot phase starting “in early 2019” and the full roll out begining “by the end of 2019”.
The standard outlines the information that should be recorded about vaccinations administered and emergency medicines supplied by community pharmacies.
However, the PRSB is set to expand the standard and include information on medication reviews, applicant use reviews, new medicine services, digital minor illness referral schemes and hospital discharge summaries to community pharmacy.
Stephen Goundrey-Smith, the PRSB advisory board member for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said that as pharmacists offer an increasing number of services “it will become increasingly important for pharmacists to share vital information about patient care with GPs”.
He added: “By doing this digitally, we can ensure that care professionals have timely access to relevant information, leading to better, safer and more personalised care.
“This sharing of data will also demonstrate the value of pharmacists’ professional input into patient care.”
Vishen Ramkisson, senior clinical lead for medicines and pharmacy at NHS Digital, said: “The data standard is the first step towards ensuring relevant information about services provided by community pharmacies can be shared digitally with other health professionals so that patients’ health records are complete and comprehensive.”
NHS Digital added that improving communication between pharmacists and GPs “is expected to cut medication errors, improve patient safety and reduce administrative work for staff”.