Standards in action: electronic notification helps GPs track flu vaccine uptake

Doctors will be able to quickly identify patients who have not had their flu vaccination, thanks to a new NHS Digital scheme which uses PRSB standards to send vaccine information electronically from pharmacies to GP practices.

The scheme has meant that electronic notifications for patients who had their flu vaccination in a pharmacy using the PharmOutcomes system were sent securely to their GP practice, if it used SystmOne. This saved time for GP practices and pharmacies, helped to improve data quality and reduced the possibility of errors.

Because the details can be added from GP systems to the patient’s medical record as soon as the notification is received, information will be more up to date. This prevents patients who have already had a flu vaccine from being contacted unnecessarily to arrange a vaccination appointment and means those who are still at risk can be more quickly identified.

A successful pilot of the initiative took place in Leeds in October involving 113 community pharmacies using PharmOutcomes and 83 GP practices using SystmOne. Following that, the service was expanded across England for pharmacies and GPs using those systems. Other suppliers will commence their rollout later this year, following similar pilot schemes.

The content of the electronic notification is based on our pharmacy information flows data standard, which covers the information that needs to be shared about vaccinations, the emergency supply of medicines and other community pharmacy services. NHS Digital has dev

eloped technical standards using a clinical language called SNOMED CT, to ensure this information can be accurately and safely shared between systems. These technical standards are known as FHIR standards. Eventually, the service will be expanded so that information about other community pharmacy services can also be shared with GPs.

Professor Maureen Baker, chair of the Professional Record Standards Body, 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.”

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