Professionals at more than 2,500 pharmacists in England will be able to check the details of patients when they make up prescriptions under a major step towards joined-up care announced by an IT supplier.
In what it calls a UK first, the leading GP systems supplier Emis said that pharmacists at high street chains Numark and Rowlands will able to access information from GP records. Such links were one of the objectives of the NHS National Programme for IT a decade ago, but progress foundered over the lack of software and concerns over confidentiality.
Emis said its new GP record viewer software incorporates robust protocols to protect patient confidentiality. Patients must provide documented consent before the pharmacist can view their GP record. Access to the GP record within the pharmacy is governed by "highly-secure role-based access controls enforced by NHS SmartCards," the company said.
Pharmacists will be able to view medication, allergies and other data to assist with dispensing from some 3,300 practices. The record viewer exchanges information between the company's EMIS Web (GP) and ProScript (pharmacy) systems.
GP Dr Farzana Hussain, partner at the Project Surgery in Plaistow, East London, has been using the software for six months. She said: "I am a great fan. It has vastly improved communication between GPs and local pharmacists, and care for patients with long term conditions.
“With repeat dispensing under electronic prescribing, we can give patients six months' supply of medication at a time. The pharmacists let us know if they are not picking it up, and we can call patients in and deal with adherence problems. For example, we are trying to cut down on unscheduled hospital admissions for asthma patients. Pharmacists can gauge whether preventative treatment needs to be stepped up by the number of treatment inhalers the patient is requesting."
Jignesh Patel, pharmacist at nearby Rohpharm community pharmacy who was involved in piloting the software said: "The software is brilliant for ordering and tracking repeat prescriptions seamlessly and electronically, with a full audit process."
The GP record viewer software is being launched with leading high street pharmacy chains Numark and Rowlands, before being made more widely available to other pharmacies using ProScript software.
Meanwhile, NHS England is considering piloting a scheme under which community pharmacists have access to the NHS Summary Care Record.