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by Clare Morrison, Royal Pharmaceutical Society Scotland
22 February 2021
Associate feature: A single source of truth

Holyrood

Associate feature: A single source of truth

One of the biggest risks in health and social care is poor information. And it is a risk that has a digital solution.

A key intervention to enable safer, truly integrated health and care services is the development of a single digital patient record.

Whenever medicines are used and a patient moves between care settings, the lack of a single record presents a huge challenge. With every admission to hospital or discharge back to primary care, a process called “medicines reconciliation” must take place.

Medicines reconciliation is a manual check to ensure patients receive the right medicine, at the right dose and at the right time. Health and care professionals use multiple sources of information to be sure they have identified an accurate medicines list. Getting this wrong is a patient safety risk, and it is a time-consuming, repetitive task for frontline staff.

Imagine a future with a single patient record held in a data cloud. All health and care professionals have read and write access to this “single source of truth”. Each profession writes information into the record from their own clinical system. Each profession reads the same record, although with a different view according to what is appropriate for their role.

Patients would not be asked the same questions multiple times by different professionals. Care would be safer and truly joined up. Pharmacists would have the clinical information they need to do their jobs safely and efficiently. Medicines reconciliation would be a thing of the past.

Now take this one step further. What if patients could also access that single source of truth? Patients with capacity could unlock their data, enter information in a patient area and be empowered to share it with any professional they chose. That really would be transformational.

Clare Morrison is the director of Royal Pharmaceutical Society Scotland.

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