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Community pharmacy

'Urgent' need to formalise information sharing between prescribers and dispensers, Scottish parliamentary committee says

The Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee’s report on supply and demand for medicines also expressed “surprise” that gathering data on interactions between pharmacy staff and patients was not included in the community pharmacy contract.

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The Scottish Parliament committee report recommended formalising the systems for sharing information between prescribers and dispensers

A Scottish Parliament report on the supply and demand for medicines has recommended that the government introduce a formal system for information sharing between prescribers and dispensers.

The Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee also said in the report that it was “concerned that in all the evidence we have taken on the importance of discussions between community pharmacists and patients at the point of dispensing, there is no route for processing the information offered by patients”, and was “surprised the gathering of data on interactions with patients within community pharmacy is not a condition of the community pharmacy contract”.

The report recognised that “the role of community pharmacists in dispensing medicines was clear and well defined” and that the committee had “heard a wealth of evidence on the other benefits community pharmacists could bring in ensuring the cost and clinical effectiveness of medicines in Scotland”.

It noted a study referenced by Jonathan Burton, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS’s) Scottish Pharmacy Board, which suggested around 5% of prescriptions were technically inaccurate, highlighting that pharmacists were acting as “an important safety net”.

But the report said that a “lack of structure surrounding [pharmacists’] relationships with both patients and the rest of the health services means they are failing to exploit their skills, knowledge and position for the benefit of patients”.

The committee recommended that “the Scottish government, as a matter of urgency, formalise the systems for sharing information between prescribers and dispensers”. 

Matt Barclay, director of operations at Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS), said that the Medicines Care Review (MCR) service “was intended to address this in long term condition/medicine management”, but that it should be more ”streamlined”.

“We will be working with Scottish government in the near future to ensure that feedback loop systems between prescriber and pharmacist are considered,” he said.

“This may be helped through sharing and read/write access of appropriate records, which is another area we have to develop across the healthcare system in Scotland.” 

Barclay also noted that Pharmacy First, due to launch at the end of July, will record pharmacist referrals and consultations. “The opportunity will be there to learn and refine that system to enable a richer dataset, which demonstrates the value of pharmacy interventions.

“As we know, many of the pharmacy interactions are captured, but not all in a centralised way. Through Pharmacy First and MCR development, it may be possible to centrally harness that data capture — and again, we will work with Scottish government partners to develop the framework required to support this.”

Burton said that the report provided “much to consider”, adding that for many years the RPS “has been calling for all pharmacists to have full read and write access to patient health records and for better IT systems that allow interoperability across primary and secondary care”.

The RPS in Scotland will, Burton said, “be studying the report in detail” before discussing the next steps with the Scottish Pharmacy Board.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20208131

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