Improving safety through electronic transfer of care systems

We have been funded by NHS England to roll out electronic transfer of care systems to 12 trusts in our region, in a pilot study which will be evaluated by a university partner. 

It is part of a national drive to reduce patient safety incidents caused by poor communication when care is transferred at the point of discharge from hospital. When patients who are assessed in hospital as needing additional support with their medicines, they are referred to their community pharmacist on discharge from hospital.

This may be because they have had changes to their medicines, started something new, or just need further discussions to help them take their medicines safely and effectively.

Evidence shows that patients who see their community pharmacist after an admission to hospital are less likely to be readmitted, and if they are they will have a shorter length of stay.

The first two sites in our region which are adopting IT systems are Countess of Chester Hospital with PharmOutcomes and Mid Cheshire Hospital with Refer to Pharmacy.

Ten other trusts have expressed an interest in participating and roll out plans are being developed.

This follows a successful project at East Lancashire Hospitals using the system Refer to Pharmacy.

Based on evidence from the last year, East Lancashire Hospitals has reduced readmissions by 0.8 per cent or 60 patients, saving £200,000.

In light of these and other findings the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has developed good practice guidance. Medicines Optimisation: Helping patients to make the most of medicines. Good practice guidance for healthcare professionals in England was published in May 2013 and has been endorsed by NHS England, Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Nursing, ABPI and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.