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An NHS Digital service which sends information about flu vaccinations electronically from pharmacies to GP practices has been expanded ahead of winter.
Last year, a new service using electronic notifications1 to inform GP practices when a patient has a flu vaccination at a pharmacy was launched, saving time for GP practices and pharmacies. The service helps to improve data quality and reduces the duplication of invitations for vaccinations2.
Electronic notifications have now been introduced for pharmacies and GP practices using Sonar and EMIS Web, following the service launch with PharmOutcomes and TPP SystmOne last year.
With more providers using the service, a greater number of flu vaccination notifications will be transmitted electronically this flu season. This is especially important this year, as more people are being offered an NHS flu vaccine.
Because details can be added to a patient’s medical record as soon as a notification is received, information will be more up to date. This will help make sure patients who have already had a flu vaccine at a community pharmacy are not contacted unnecessarily to arrange an appointment.
Dr Simon Eccles, chief clinical information officer and deputy chief executive of NHSX, said: “This is an excellent example of how to solve a national problem by building on existing technology.
"This change will greatly improve care for patients by ensuring their family doctor and team are kept informed of their flu vaccinations.
“This has been a fantastic combined effort from all the teams involved at NHSX, NHS Digital and the pharmacy and GP suppliers to expand this important service at such tremendous speed and support our NHS through the flu season."
Dr Vishen Ramkisson, Senior Clinical Lead at NHS Digital, said: “Not only do electronic notifications improve patient safety by ensuring information about pharmacy-delivered services is complete, accurate and up to date, they also save time for GP practice staff. This is because transferring the information directly into GP systems reduces the need for transcribing and paper-based communications.
“The service also increases information security, as it ensures the right information about the right patient reaches the right GP practice.”
The content of the electronic notification is based on the pharmacy information flows data standard3 developed in partnership with the Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB).
The PRSB worked with clinicians, key stakeholders and professional bodies to develop and endorse the clinical standard, which ensures the right information about vaccinations, the emergency supply of medicines and other community pharmacy services is shared with GPs.
Notes for editors
- The information is uploaded immediately from a community pharmacy’s clinical system via the Message Exchange for Social Care and Health (MESH) – and sent direct to the GP practice, where it is received as a workflow task, which is consistent with the other forms of communication that a practice receives.
- GPs will still also receive the full details of the vaccination in a PDF document and can add any additional information to the patient record manually as appropriate. In the unlikely event that the electronic message cannot be sent, pharmacies may revert to their existing processes, so GPs should continue to check for notifications received via NHSmail, fax or post.
- The PRSB pharmacy information flows data standard is here. NHS Digital has developed technical standards using a clinical language called SNOMED CT to ensure messages can be accurately and safely shared between systems. These technical standards are known as FHIR standards.