In ‘The future of healthcare: our vision for digital, data and technology in health and care’, my Rt. hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care outlined his ambition that the best technology available is used across the National Health Service, including in community pharmacy. The use of technology can improve the safety and efficiency of our services, and patients experience of them. Therefore, among other things, the NHS is working with the pharmacy community to encourage the use of technology by:
- Providing the Summary Care Record, which over 95% of community pharmacies are using, supporting the clinical care they provide. NHS Digital is now integrating the Summary Care Record into clinical pharmacy systems to make it quicker and easier for pharmacy teams to access;
- Optimising the Electronic Prescription Service, which is now used in more than 92% of general practitioner (GP) practices and all community pharmacies. This means electronic prescriptions can be sent safely and securely to pharmacies directly from GP surgeries. We are currently rolling out electronic prescriptions for patients who have not nominated a regular pharmacy, which will be available in all community pharmacies;
- Piloting a digital system in several community pharmacies which automatically checks whether patients are eligible for free prescriptions, simplifying the process for patients and ensuring that people who are exempt from NHS prescription charges are not charged. Following a positive evaluation, we are now planning national roll out; and
- Working with the Professional Records Standards Body to publish new standards for data transfer between pharmacy systems and the GP patient record and will underpin the growing connectivity of community pharmacy service delivery with the rest of the NHS, for example allowing calls to NHS 111 to be redirected to a community pharmacy wherever appropriate.