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Pharmacy: improving digital messaging

Products and services hosted by NHS Digital that, as our research has shown, will benefit pharmacy services in England.

Introduction

There are approximately 11,400 community pharmacies in England. Each day 1.6 million people visit a community pharmacy on their high streets, supermarkets, and often in the heart of the most deprived communities. Each year 606 million prescriptions are dispensed; that’s approximately 5.5 million paper prescriptions and 45 million electronic prescriptions each month.

The traditional role of the community pharmacist has evolved to include more patient-facing NHS clinical services to allow for improved patient access and better integration with the wider NHS and social care.


The challenge - lack of secure messaging

NHS Digital's research has identified that many community pharmacies lack the ability to send secure electronic notifications to general practices following the provision of clinical services. This would help improve communication between health and care settings and ensure patient records are kept up to date.

Important information about medicines dispensed or vaccinations administered must be added to the patient’s medical record. Current methods for sending this information require human intervention by general practice staff.


Our recommendation - electronic notifications from pharmacy to GP systems

Electronic notifications are used to securely share information about the urgent supply of medicines and pharmacy administered flu vaccinations with GP practices.

Electronic notifications are sent automatically from pharmacies to GP practices as a workflow task. Some GP systems can receive structured information, which means details can be added directly to a patient's GP record, without transcribing the information manually.

These electronic notifications are currently available for the urgent supply of medicines made as part of the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) and pharmacy administered flu vaccinations.

The content of the electronic notification is based on the pharmacy information flows data standard, developed in partnership with the Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB). The PRSB worked with clinicians from across primary care to develop and endorse the standard which covers vaccinations, urgent supply of medicines and other community pharmacy services.

This system of electronic notifications is currently in use in:

  • TPP SystmOne
  • EMIS Web
  • Sonar Informatics
  • Pinnacle PharmOutcomes
  • Cegedim Rx

How it works

Notifications are sent as a structured Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) message from a community pharmacy’s clinical system via Message Exchange for Social Care and Health (MESH) directly to a patient’s GP practice. This reduces manual processing and improves data quality.

Once added to the patient record, the practice can also update a patient’s Summary Care Record (SCR), making the information available to other care providers.

This is a more straightforward and efficient process for practice staff than the notifications previously sent via paper and NHSmail.


Information for GP practices

This functionality delivers urgent supply and flu vaccination notifications to the practice MESH mailbox and creates a workflow task to complete the process.

GP practices still receive the full details of the urgent supply or flu vaccination in a PDF document and can add any additional information to the patient record manually as appropriate.

If the electronic message cannot be sent, pharmacies may revert to previous processes, so practice teams should continue to check for notifications received via NHSmail or post.

TPP SystmOne

If you use TPP SystmOne, the structured information in the electronic message can be read by your system. For flu vaccinations, key information will be added directly to the patient record without manually transcribing or completing a workflow task. There are some exceptions where clinicians will need to accept the changes. Further information is available from TPP.

If the electronic message cannot be sent, pharmacies may revert to previous processes, so practice teams should continue to check for notifications received via NHSmail or post.

EMIS Web

The system can read the structured information in the electronic message. For flu vaccinations, key information is added directly to the patient record without manually transcribing or completing a workflow task. There are some exceptions where clinicians will need to accept the changes. Users must choose to opt in to receive flu vaccination notifications in this way, and instructions are available on EMIS Now.

Urgent supply of medicines notifications should be reviewed and accepted by a clinician. If you use a third-party product such as Docman for your patient document management, you will need to configure your Document Management task settings in Workflow Manager. Instructions are available on EMIS Now.

If the electronic message cannot be sent, pharmacies may revert to previous processes, so practice teams should continue to check for notifications received via NHSmail or post.


Information for community pharmacies

The way you record flu vaccinations and CPCS urgent supply consultations in your pharmacy services system have not changed. The system checks whether the patient’s GP practice can receive the new message type before securely sending it.

If an electronic notification cannot be sent, please follow the user guide for your pharmacy system on how this should be managed.

For more information, please contact your system supplier.


Roll out and availability

Community pharmacies using Sonar Informatics and Pinnacle PharmOutcomes can now send notifications for both NHS flu vaccinations and CPCS urgent supplies of medicines.

Community pharmacies using Cegedim Rx can send notifications for urgent supply of medicines.

GP practices using EMIS web and TPP SystmOne can receive notifications for both services.


Contact us

Get in touch via NHSDPODAC@nhs.net


Further information

internal Improving the information flow between pharmacies and GPs

Tahmina Rokib, Clinical Lead for Digital Medicines at NHS Digital, talks about how electronic notifications giving details of urgent medication issued by community pharmacies, keep GPs fully informed and patients’ records up-to-date.

Last edited: 4 April 2022 11:25 am