Electronic flu notifications service will be launched this winter

Author: Ingrid Torjesen

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A service enabling information about flu vaccinations to be sent electronically from pharmacies to GP practices has been rolled out by two system suppliers and is to be expanded over the next two months, NHS Digital has announced.

More than 30,000 electronic messages carrying information about patients who have had flu vaccines at pharmacies have been sent during this winter’s flu season so far, which has saved time at GP practices and pharmacies, helped to improve data quality and reduced the possibility of errors.

Information is more up to date because it can be received by GP systems and added to the patient’s medical record as soon as the notification is received from the pharmacy. This prevents patients who have already had a flu vaccine from being contacted unnecessarily allowing efforts to be concentrated on identifying those in at-risk groups who haven’t had their vaccine. 

A successful pilot of the initiative took place in Leeds in October involving 113 community pharmacies using PharmOutcomes and 83 GP practices using SystmOne. During the two-week pilot, 2,500 messages were electronically transferred.

The service was then expanded across England for pharmacies and GPs using PharmOutcomes and SystmOne over the following two months. Other suppliers will start their roll out later this year, following similar pilot schemes.

Vishen Ramkisson, a GP and senior clinical lead at NHS Digital, said: “This is a valuable enhancement which helps ensure the information in patients’ medical records is comprehensive and up to date.”

The content of the electronic notification is based on the pharmacy information flows data standard developed in partnership with the Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB). The PRSB worked with clinicians, key stakeholders and professional bodies to develop and endorse the clinical standard, which ensures the right information about vaccinations, the emergency supply of medicines and other community pharmacy services is shared with GPs.

Professor Maureen Baker, chair of the PRSB - which collaborated on the project - said: “The Leeds pilot is an early example of the benefits of digital information sharing between GPs and pharmacies that our standards help to deliver. For GPs, getting up to date information about patient’s pharmacy treatments is key to their ongoing care. And sharing the information digitally saves GPs’ precious time, while making care better and safer.”


Editorial team, Wilmington Healthcare

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