Setting the standards for information sharing

by Stephen Goundrey-Smith, RPS Pharmacy Informatics Advisor

We are moving towards better integrated health and care in the UK. As part of the drive to support this, new pharmacy services are useful for helping people with long-term and complex conditions to stay well in the community and take their medicines properly. This in turn means people are able to take more control of their own conditions and manage them better from home, with the support of professionals when needed. However, this system can only work if it is supported by good information sharing.

For example, the GP needs to know which vulnerable patients have already had their flu jab in a pharmacy, so they only invite the right people to come in to be vaccinated. Sharing information between pharmacists and GPs will ensure that both groups have a more complete picture of their patient’s health. This will benefit patient safety and will be more convenient for patients, as they won’t have to remember and repeat information about their care.

That’s why the Professional Record Standards Body is developing a standard for pharmacy information flows, so that information can be shared easily in a standardised way between different systems in health and care.

The first stage of the standard outlines the information that needs to be shared between community pharmacies and GPs about vaccinations and supplies of medicines without a prescription (emergency supply).

Once the standard has been implemented using NHS Digital’s technical standards, pharmacy interventions can be fed straight to GP systems, making community pharmacy contributions to patient care visible to the GP. Good information sharing supports the work of both the pharmacist and GP, as well as improving the consistency of care for patients.

The second stage of the standard will cover medicine reviews conducted in a community pharmacy or care home, and information recorded for patients using the New Medicines Service, which supports them to take new medicines for long-term conditions. It will also cover the Digital Minor Illness Referral Scheme, which is being piloted and will enable patients to be directed from NHS 111 to a local pharmacist for help with minor conditions.

Information sharing works both ways, and pharmacists can also benefit from standardised information being fed back from hospitals and GPs. For example, when community pharmacists have access to details about a patient’s discharge from hospital, they can offer appropriate pharmacy services and better ongoing support when the patient is back at home to help them to take their medicine the right way.

As well as improving patient safety and patient care, there has also been a reduction in medicines waste, as people are supported to adhere to any new medicines, and problems are avoided or overcome.

For more information, implementation advice or to get involved with the development of future standards, contact


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