Pharmacy’s future is digital

By Sibby Buckle, Chair of the RPS Digital Forum


What is the RPS Pharmacy Digital Forum?

It’s where the profession comes together to forge the future.  We are an enthusiastic and committed group of 30+ members who agree that digital literacy across the profession needs urgent attention.

With representation from across the UK, and from all sectors of pharmacy – community, primary care and hospital, PMR suppliers, NHS Digital, DH, PSNC, PRSB, and NHS Improvement –  there is a real appetite to create the change needed to enable pharmacy to be truly integrated into the NHS and healthcare.


Work in progress:

It’s vital that organisations and suppliers work collaboratively to improve the integration of pharmacy into the NHS.  Whilst the future is designed and developed we must work with what we have now.  The use of existing technologies like NHSMail needs to be maximised now, whilst the future is designed and developed.  NHSMail is an interim solution to facilitate real time communication of this year’s 2017/18 winter flu vaccinations from pharmacy to GP’s.


Challenges ahead:


The Falsified Medicines Directive
The Directive is an important initiative which aims to prevent falsified medicines entering the supply chain and reaching patients by strengthening all aspects of the manufacture and supply chain across Europe. It introduces increased regulatory requirements for suppliers, manufacturers and wholesalers.  The consultation on the Falsified Medicines Directive is due later this year, and with the February 2019 deadline on the horizon, this will be an important opportunity to look at flexibilities within this delegated regulation.


General Data Protection Regulation
The new regulations will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The Government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.  This will mean huge changes to the way we all handle data and the RPS will be issuing guidance on this next year.


Coding – SNOMED CT
In order for healthcare systems to talk to each other, coded data is needed.  GP systems are coded and pharmacy PMR systems will need to be too so that medicines and clinical data can be linked.  The SNOMED system provides a collection of medical terms providing codes, terms, synonyms and definitions used in clinical documentation and reporting. This looks like the way forward and we’ll keep you posted on progress.


We are a profession which rises to a challenge and embracing new technologies must be part of this to drive our integration into the multidisciplinary team.  We must be able to share the clinical data we already capture in our pharmacies so we and other health professionals get a full picture of our patient’s needs and their care.  The future is bright – the challenge is keeping up with it!

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