A pharmacy e-referral system in Newcastle that links pharmacists in hospital with colleagues in the community has won national recognition and is already being rolled out across the region and to other parts of the country.
Under the PharmOutcomes e-referral scheme, developed by the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust and the North of the Tyne Local Pharmaceutical Committee, patients are electronically referred to a community pharmacist by the hospital pharmacy when they are discharged from hospital.
The community pharmacist contacts the patient within three days of leaving hospital and carries out a consultation and medicines use review (MUR), feeding the details back to the hospital.
In the nine months to March 2015, 13 patients had been referred to their GP following their MUR and three were referred back to the hospital after experiencing an adverse drug reaction.
The system is now being used by seven hospital trusts across the Newcastle and Cumbria regions, involving 700 pharmacies, with another three trusts in the pipeline.
On 18 November 2015, PharmOutcomes won two categories at the annual Health Service Journal Awards – ‘Enhancing care by sharing data and information’ and ‘Most effective adoption and diffusion of best practice’. Judges described the system as “pioneering” and said it had national impact.
“We have created the means for hospital and community pharmacists to work together in an integrated way across the profession,” says Neil Watson, director of pharmacy at the Newcastle Hospitals Foundation Trust. “They now have the ability to send referrals and consultations between them and, although more work still has to be done, I am sure that more people will use the system. My expectation is that it will become a national model.”
The local Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) for North East and North Cumbria — which brings together clinicians, researchers, informatics experts, academics and others to spread innovation and improve patient care — was instrumental in helping to roll out the programme across the region. The wider AHSN national network also played a key role in helping to spread the initiative across the country “with pace and scale”, Watson says.