Pharmacists will be able to share data on patients’ flu vaccinations with GPs from winter 2019, using NHS Digital’s new data sharing standards.
The standards, which were first published in November 2018, aim to improve communication in healthcare by allowing community pharmacists to share information about vaccinations, medicines and guidance with GPs in a digital format.
Sibby Buckle, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Digital Forum, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that NHS Digital expects three pharmacy IT system suppliers to have implemented the standards allowing pharmacists and GPs to exchange flu vaccine data “by the end of March ”.
NHS Digital, she said, is currently engaging with pharmacy IT suppliers “through incentive payments” for those able to implement the standards.
Buckle added that the rollout will be similar to that of the summary care record, in that it will be done in stages rather than through a pilot scheme, as was originally described by NHS Digital.
She explained that following the rollout of stage one, stage two will enable pharmacists to send and receive data on medicines reviews, appliance use reviews, the New Medicines Service and the Digital Minor Illness Referral Service, and receive hospital discharge summaries. However, no date was given for its launch.
“Once all the systems are talking the same language, we will be able to communicate with GPs electronically,” she said. “For example, hospitals will be able to transfer the discharge data electronically to pharmacies because we will be using that common set of standards.
“It is clinician-to-clinician, and that is very exciting.”
NHS Digital told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “We are working to digitise the transfer of activities, such as flu vaccinations from community pharmacies to GP practices. We are currently engaged with pharmacy and GP system suppliers to implement standards, delivered in conjunction with the Professional Record Standards Body.
“These will enable the digital transfer of important information regarding patient care between a community pharmacy and GP practice. We are on track to move from technical development to proving the transfer of information in a live setting in the summer of 2019, and look forward to making further announcements as our delivery plans progress.”