Nearly eight in ten pharmacy team members think that mobile devices would improve efficiency, but over 60% don’t have a smartphone and two-thirds don’t have a tablet device for use within the pharmacy.

The findings, published last week, were based on a survey of 250 pharmacy staff conducted by the Community Pharmacy IT Group (CP ITG), which was set up in 2017 to encourage the pharmacy sector to get more engaged with digital changes.

The survey found that 77% of pharmacists surveyed thought that using mobile devices would improve efficiency in the pharmacy, with checking prescriptions being the most popular reason why, closely followed by patient consultations and dispensing.

In the survey, 40% of pharmacy team members said that they were not aware of NHS paperless goals.

In 2013, then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt challenged the NHS to go paperless by 2018. He wanted to see patient online access to GP health records by 2015, as well as paperless referrals and clear plans in place to securely link electronic health and care records by 2018.

The target was later pushed back to 2020 and now the NHS long term plan, published in 2019, says that while ‘good progress has been made’, ‘we have not yet enabled the wholesale transformation of the NHS that patients have a right to expect’.

The survey also found that 17% of pharmacy staff were not supportive of the goal of a paperless pharmacy.

IT issues may be to blame: 40% of pharmacy staff said that they had poor mobile signal within their pharmacy and 56.5% said that their Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) and / or Patient Medication Record (PMR) system had failed for more than one hour at least once over the past two months.

In August, the CP ITG submitted evidence to a parliamentary inquiry that called for a framework to develop pharmacy IT and better support pharmacy teams, and enable pharmacy teams to have access to patient records.

It argued that:

  • Pharmacy teams should have access to up-to-date records information, e.g. from shared care records, GP Connect and summary care records with additional information
  • The Booking and Referral Standards (BaRS) should be extended so that future referrals into and from pharmacy can be communicated seamlessly
  • A framework for the development of pharmacy IT should be developed to ensure IT suppliers are better able to support pharmacy teams and their delivery of services
  • The community pharmacy data standard should be expanded to enable services information to be efficiently recorded
  • IT standards are needed so that suppliers can enable automatic reporting to the NHS Business Services Authority
  • The EPS next generation project should be further developed.

In June, the Government promised to 'support collaborative working through PCNs and neighbourhood teams, increasing integration of primary care with UEC [urgent and emergency care], community pharmacy and other services within ICSs, including providing safe and seamless access to patient records within defined roles by March 2025'.