Associate feature: the power of information
Pharmacists already use technology to help improve patient care, for example barcode identification of medicines and the use of robots in dispensing are already changing working practices. However, to fully reap the benefits, we need to ensure that all pharmacists have access to the patient record. This would improve patient safety and is very much overdue.
Digital systems can enable community pharmacies to become “high street hubs” for minor illness treatment, public health, medicines literacy and management of long-term conditions in the future NHS.
However, disappointingly, most community pharmacists are still unable to access patient records, despite performing an increasing role in providing NHS services. This is becoming an urgent patient safety issue as more prescribers are involved in patient care from different healthcare professions and all the necessary information to keep people safe is still not available in one place.
If pharmacists are to flourish in the digital world, it's vital that they are enabled to do so. Giving them access to appropriate records would enable them to practice safely and effectively as part of the wider NHS healthcare team. It seems a very straightforward ask but it would make a significant impact on the work pharmacists do. It would also make better use of NHS resources by avoiding unnecessary duplication along the patient journey. People expect the healthcare professionals looking after them to have all the information they need for their treatment and care.
It’s time the Scottish Government enabled all pharmacists to access patient health records so that, with patient consent, they have the information they require to provide effective access to care. It’s a simple way to improve patient care – and to make sure pharmacists are making the best use of the technology already available.
See www.rpharms.com for more information.
Jonathan Burton is chair of RPS in Scotland
This piece was sponsored by RPS Scotland