With information technology key to the development of the NHS, it will be interesting to see what community pharmacy gets. Currently I support, at a high monthly charge, the cost of maintaining a computerised patient medication record system in my pharmacy. I own the equipment and without the generous support of my wholesaler I would have had to pay for it all.
According to health policy across the water (N. Ireland health policy is difficult to read at the minute) we will have electronic prescribing in a few years. The next step is repeat dispensing, controlled by pharmacy, and then the development of medicine management programmes. This will only happen where community pharmacists are fully integrated within the NHS computer network. A major pilot is being set up and many companies are putting their names forward. There are rich pickings for the company that controls this system.
Where pharmacy is going in all this is not too clear. Other issues, such as selling of information and reducing prescription fraud, are driving the process. Without a strong voice through our representative organisations, we risk having IT systems imposed on us which may not serve our long term interests.
Beyond the systems, but implicitly linked to them, must be the right of pharmacists to patient information. Without it we will not be able to contribute towards improving patient care. Not knowing the diagnosis presents a major hurdle to pharmaceutical care. For example, the patient on atenolol might be suffering from angina or hypertension or both. The patient taking bendrofluazide 5mg may be suffering from hypertension or congestive heart failure.
Pharmacists working in GP surgeries and clinical pharmacists working on hospital words have always had access to this information. Why not community pharmacists?
GPs appear defiant in their opposition to any such move. They hide behind claims of patient confidentiality, when clearly their motive is self-interest. They know that this information is power, and they don't want to lose it.
"Patient information." Chemist & Druggist 6 Jan. 2001: 7. General OneFile. Web. 12 Mar. 2012.
Gale Document Number: GALE|A69004232
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