Community Pharmacy IT Group (CP ITG) workstream updates

Published on: 28th June 2021 | Updated on: 4th June 2024

Read more about CP ITG and its work at: the Community Pharmacy IT Group (CP ITG) webpage.

This ‘CP ITG workstream update‘ webpage sets out information following CP ITG meetings based on the the latest pharmacy IT bulletin.

The latest bulletin can also be downloaded in pdf format: CP ITG Summer 2024 IT bulletin update (pdf)


Workstreams (overview)

CP ITG has five workstream areas:

  1. Interoperability and security: Ensuring information about people’s health and care can be safely and securely accessed, wherever it is needed. (WS1a-1d)
  2. Reducing burden: Use of digital to reduce the burden on pharmacy teams, so they can focus on patients, and appropriate infrastructure for the task. (WS2a)
  3. Good use of digital: Support the use of digital within pharmacy to improve health and care productivity, improve patient safety outcomes and improve cooperation between pharmacy teams and the health and care system. (WS3a-3c)
  4. Patient and pharmacy tools: Support enabling patients to be able to choose digital tools to access medicines information and pharmacy services directly, so they can receive the best outcomes, recognising the need to also remain inclusive for all patients. (WS4a)
  5. Set out roadmap priorities: Development and promotion of a wider community pharmacy digital roadmap / vision. (WS5a)

See downloadable PDF version of the full: CP ITG workstreams.

These sections below set out updates related to these workstreams based on the most recent pharmacy IT bulletin.

Community pharmacy IT developments: overview

Overview of current pharmacy IT priorities

NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care and the CP ITG have previously highlighted the IT priorities for pharmacy, which include the PRSB Community Pharmacy Data Standard / Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) IT; electronic health records; service data APIs; Booking and Referral Standards (BaRS); and EPS next generation. The CP ITG has been actively supporting these projects, and Community Pharmacy England is also working with the NHS on the following steps to progress in these areas. These priorities are in line with the CP ITG’s vision of pharmacy IT and align with the IT aspects outlined in the Nuffield Trust’s Vision for Community Pharmacy. The Primary Care Recovery Plan has also incorporated digital elements that align with these priorities, such as GP Connect and Booking and Referral Standards (BaRS) for Pharmacy First IT.

GP Connect is a system that enables GPs and other authorised healthcare organisations to link with GP system information, allowing those authorised to use additional access/update record functionalities. The minutes and slides from the group’s previous meetings explained more about GP Connect.

EPS and the detained estate

NHS England’s Health and Justice Information Service (HJIS) have been working with NHSE’s TD EPS team and others to explore allowing prison prescribers to use EPS. There is currently a relatively small volume of such prescriptions dispensed across England within community pharmacies (NHS England estimates this to be 300 prescriptions per year).  A small project team are exploring how to make the use of EPS successful for all involved – including for this vulnerable patient group. This would involve a first-of-type rollout to around one to three prescribers – from early July 2024 at the earliest, subject to planning and discovery work.

Patients leaving prison may not have immediate access to mobile phones, and their registered GP information may be outdated. NHS England’s Health and Justice Information Service (HJIS) are discussing with prison prescribers that there are scenarios in which they may wish to issue the EPS prescriptions remotely.

NHS England’s HJIS and the project team will continue to work with stakeholders to plan the successful use of EPS in this care setting.

Vaccination IT

CP ITG pharmacy representatives have expressed support for the following vaccination IT elements:

Appointment Accessibility:

  • Patients can view and modify appointments using both the NHS App and/or pharmacy apps.
  • The development of a BaRS standard for pharmacy and NHS appointments and the integration of Pharmacy & NHS systems into BaRS so that referrals and appointments are seamlessly managed.
  • NHS National Booking Service appointments are also part of this integrated system.
  • Parity across NHS systems so that NHS systems which facilitate GP appointments also facilitate pharmacy appointments.
  • IT to support the recall system.

System Integration:

  • The BaRS system is expanded to incorporate appointments, IT standards, and its acts.
  • Pharmacy systems and NHS systems are integrated, streamlining appointment availability management and communication. Pharmacy teams report needing to be able to load clinic availability across different pharmacy and NHS systems (e.g. National Booking Service (NBS) or any other appointment system used by the patient or the pharmacy).
  • Post event notification: automated notification to the patient’s record held by the GP. To ensure improved data for general practice and the NHS.

Supplier Diversity:

  • Multiple system suppliers contribute to the development of vaccination service modules. Making use of the Digital Care Services Catalogue to encourage choice
  • This diversity ensures flexibility, innovation, and continuous improvement in vaccination services.

Patient experience:

  • Standardised patient messages.

Pharmacy teams can send additional comments to it@cpe.org.uk with any feedback.

Future

The NHS England pharmacy team, along with NHS England’s Transformation Directorate (NHSE’s TD), will be considering further NHS pharmacy IT priorities. They plan to engage with the group in a future session.

In an initial meeting between NHSE’s TD, Community Pharmacy England and CP ITG Chair, we provided feedback on pharmacy priorities identified by the CP ITG so far. This includes support for the following developments (in alphabetical order), and we have advised that the CP ITG is open to providing further input:

  • Booking and Referral Standards (BaRS);
  • Electronic health records and GP Connect;
  • Expanded Community Pharmacy Data standard;
  • Independent Prescribing IT;
  • NHS App, apps and the next generate  EPS; and
  • Additional items outlined within the CP ITG’s vision of pharmacy IT.

The theme across pharmacy requests for IT change (in line with NHS Long Term Plan) relates to a desire for the ‘seamless flow of clinical information (interoperability)’. A more seamless flow of clinical information would also help to realise Nuffield Trust’s vision for the sector with it being able to support continuous improvement:

  • preventing ill health and supporting wellbeing;
  • pricing clinical care for patients;
  • helping patients to live well with medicines; and
  • provision of integrated primary care for neighbourhoods.

Pharmacy teams can send additional comments to it@cpe.org.uk with any feedback.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

Background: Alan Turing was the first to conduct substantial research into machine intelligence in the 1950s. Since then, AI has continued to evolve exponentially. Notably, AI language models like GPT-4 are revolutionising how citizens and workers can carry out some tasks, and large and small companies are seeking to utilise AI technology. AI developments within healthcare continue at pace – some outlined in Appendix CPITG 05/03/24 AI sections, the Winter 2023 CP ITG bulletin AI sections and Appendix CPITG 05/06/24 (pages 11-12 of this agenda paper).

AI considerations:

  • Clinical systems optimisation: Pharmacy teams are already utilising clinical systems equipped with pre-set algorithms. These assist pharmacists in optimising patient care.
  • Data utilisation: Pharmacists and NHS organisations are exploring ways to better utilise datasets for improved outcomes. AI could play a crucial role in analysing extensive data.
  • Supporting pharmacy practice: AI and machine learning have the potential to revolutionise pharmacy practice. By supporting the elusive quadruple aim of healthcare—improving outcomes, reducing costs, enhancing patient experience, and benefiting clinicians.
  • As AI adoption grows, ensuring data security and patient privacy remains critical.

Pharmacy teams can send additional comments to it@cpe.org.uk with any feedback.

Systems & services IT

Pharmacy First IT

NHS England and its Transformation Directorate are continuing to work with four IT system suppliers to assure Pharmacy First functionalities:

Previously, the system suppliers updated their NHS-assured IT support for the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) to incorporate the additional elements of the Pharmacy First service. Furthermore, development of an additional IT functionality is underway to further enhance support the service. As a result, pharmacy owners have of the option to either:

  • Continue using their current IT system supplier for Pharmacy First IT support, or
  • Transition to another NHS-assured Pharmacy First IT system supplier.

All four CPCS IT system providers have confirmed to Community Pharmacy England that the pharmacy’s contracts for using a CPCS IT system have been carried over to the supplier’s new Pharmacy First IT system at the start of the service, unless the pharmacy owner chooses to switch to another supplier for Pharmacy First. Pharmacy owners who have not yet entered into a contract with their current or intended system should do so promptly.

NHS England and suppliers continue to work on the other IT elements coming in post-launch:

  • GP Connect Update Record (see also the records section of this report);
  • GP Connect Access Record; and
  • Booking and Referral Standards (BaRS).

NHS Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) pharmacy IT

  • NHS England and Community Pharmacy England have expressed the need for suppliers to receive comprehensive information about the service, including the IT implications and dataset requirements. The minutes and slides from the group’s previous meeting provide further details on the progress of MYS APIs. The MYS API priorities were previously listed as Pharmacy Contraception Service, Discharge Medicine Service (DMS), Blood Pressure Checking Service, New Medicines Service (NMS) and Smoking Cessation Service. CP ITG pharmacy representatives previously reported that data entry for services like DMS is consuming excessive time for many pharmacy teams. In response, last year, NHSBSA issued an expression of interest for the DMS API to gauge the market’s interest in providing this integration service. Both NHS England and NHSBSA remain committed to prioritising the progress of the API programme.

Artificial Intelligence (AI): current use

AI: future use

AI: governance and principles

AI: overcoming bias

Data flow, standards & IT communications

New dm+d consultation

As part of the UK Medicines Terminology Futures work, NHSE’s TD seeks feedback from those who use or manage dm+d data to understand the impacts of uplifting the dm+d standard ‘SCCI0052’.

The scope for uplifting the Standard relates to the following:

  • dm+d historical codes (already live);
  • ingredients for VTMs (expected in dm+d: Quarter 3 2024);
  • Trade Family and Trade Family Group (expected in dm+d: Quarter 4 2024); and
  • removal of the ‘interesting’ excipient field  (this data has not been in dm+d extract since October 2022).

These changes will be incorporated into the core dm+d data model rather than as elements within Supplementary Files. To assess the impact on users and the resulting changes to the core dm+d files and download, the team has created a short survey. A sample non-official test file reflecting the proposed changes has been provided. Pharmacy IT suppliers and others interested are encouraged to submit a response by 5pm on Friday 21st June 2024. Questions can be sent to the CP ITG secretariat or directly to nhsdigital.ukmeds@nhs.net.

Information standards for health consultation (Community Pharmacy England and Community Pharmacy IT Group response)

Department of Health and Social Care ran a consultation to invite views on the proposals for information standards for health – how these are produced, communicated and implemented in the future. Department of Health and Social Care say that:

“Changes introduced by the Health and Care Act (HCA) 2022, once commenced, will make information standards binding, i.e. they must be complied with, and will extend their application to include private health and adult social care providers. These changes necessitate regulations to establish the procedure for preparing and publishing information standards.”

Community Pharmacy IT Group pharmacy representatives fed into the joint response, emphasizing the importance of  interoperability standards. They have also highlighted the need for ongoing engagement regarding IT policy and technical changes that could be progressed or implemented by the community pharmacy sector and its IT suppliers. As a result, it is recommended that information standards related to the pharmacy sector involve relevant engagements with Community Pharmacy IT Group, Community Pharmacy England and the NHS England pharmacy team.

Changes made by the Health and Care Act 2022, once commenced, could:

  • make information standards binding; and
  • extend information standards so that they may also apply to private health and adult social care providers.

Standards and interoperability

  • A Digital Health roundtable discussed how the NHS can get more from Application Programming Interface (APIs) and ensure they promote interoperability.
  • Community Pharmacy England reported on GP Connect: Update Record developments. This is a new feature that CPCF IT system suppliers are adding to their systems.
  • Pharmacy team members using GP Connect Update Record / Access Record / Booking and Referral Standards (BaRS) that wish to share feedback (or speak with NHSE’s TD user research team members) please email it@cpe.org.uk. NHS researchers will also conduct some visits to those pharmacy teams using GP Connect Update Record in the London and Manchester area during spring/summer 2024.

Digital patient services & prescriptions

Other NHS account and NHS App updates

Original Pack Dispensing IT

Appendix CPITG 02/06/24 includes updates on OPD IT. A CP ITG subgroup meeting was held on November 15th, 2023, about this topic (the minutes were distributed to attendees). CP ITG pharmacy and supplier representatives proposed items for OPD IT.

Patient digital tools and apps: case studies

Electronic health records

Records: National

Records: local

Genomics

Government’s new five-year UK Pathogen Genomics Strategy

The government’s UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) published a  five-year UK Pathogen Genomics Strategy.

Genomics will help to detect new threats to:

  • identify outbreaks and find their source
  • track transmission of disease between people
  • understand whether human immune responses will be protective
  • choose the most effective vaccines for the population
  • detect antimicrobial resistance and determine the optimal treatments for individuals

The strategy aims are:

  • using pathogen genomic data to optimise clinical/public health decision-making from local to global settings;
  • using pathogen genomic data to drive improvements in diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics;
  • providing a nationally coordinated, scaled-up pathogen genomics service;
  • supporting a pathogen genomics workforce transformation within and beyond UKHSA;
  • committing to pathogen genomic data sharing and global collaboration;
  • driving innovation in pathogen genomics; and
  • building high-impact pathogen genomic services that are good value for money.

Connectivity & data security

NHSmail multi-factor authentication (MFA)

  • The NHSmail team previously announced that multi-factor authentication will become mandatory across the platform for all NHSmail users from 2024.
  • The NHSmail team previously presented to the group about MFA and NHSmail. MFA is already a requirement for Welsh NHSmail. The group has advised the NHSmail team that clear communication and thorough testing should occur before a full roll-out of MFA across pharmacy NHSmail users. Community Pharmacy England and the NHSmail team have worked on guidance to support the testing of MFA. MFA will be an essential development for NHSmail as it enhances data security, protects reputation of the NHS, its users,  organisations, and provides increased defence against cyber-attacks. The NHSmail plan is to make MFA mandatory for all NHSmail users, with the expectation that most organisations will have fully implemented MFA by 2024. The mandatory rollout of MFA for the PODS NHSmail users (pharmacy, optometry, dentistry and social care, DACS, Independent Midwives, GP Locums) is scheduled for 2024. Community Pharmacy England, working with the NHSmail team, has a prepared one-page factsheet for pharmacy NHSmail users to guide them in testing MFA (or adding/removing MFA). Pharmacy representatives are also encouraged to urgently put themselves forward to test out MFA by using the guidance factsheet to switch MFA on (it can be toggled off again during the non-mandatory phase). It is important for pharmacy team members using NHSmail to try MFA now. so that any issues can be identified and addressed before the mandatory rollout. Pharmacy representatives are also encouraged to provide feedback on their experiences and comments regarding the new MFA guidance by submitting comments to the IT feedback form, which will be relayed  to the NHSmail team.

Changes with the use of legacy Chrome Extension for NHS Credential Management

Previous CP ITG updates included some info about NHS Credential Management. NHSE’s TD has provided an update about the legacy Chrome Extension, which does not align with Care Identity Service (CIS) IT. If required, support/questions: iamplatforms@nhs.net. The top of the NHS Spine portal page was updated with the text below.

“The Google Chrome extension may stop working from 1 June 2024. If you haven’t already, please install NHS Credential Management. For more info please read the depreciation note at NHSE’s TD website

Policy and general updates

IT policy: priorities, reports and the future 

IT policies: localities, organisations and suppliers

IT policy: commentary and requests for the future 

IT policy case studies: Secondary care

IT policy (local): Integrated Care Systems

Digital inclusion

Digital capabilities of the workforce

Innovation

CP ITG governance

  • CP ITG’s Terms Of Reference (see here) require updating e.g. with a group member organisation’s name changing from AIMp to IPA. Please could CP ITG voting members and other participants contact it@cpe.org.uk before the middle of June 2024 with requests to make changes to the group’s Terms Of Reference.

Referrals & appointments

Optimal principles across all pharmacy IT

  • Pharmacy teams can provide updates about any efforts to move towards more paperless work by contacting it@cpe.org.uk.

Additional archived quarterly updates

See: CP ITG workstream updates (archive) for older updates in html format. The bulletins (including the most recent one) can also be downloaded in pdf format at the CP ITG webpage.

Get involved

If you have a related query or would like to feed into the CP ITG or share your updates about IT and digital issues then please don’t hesitate to contact one of the group’s organisers, Dan Ah-Thion or it@cpe.org.uk or you can also sign-up to join the virtual Community Pharmacy Digital Group which helps inform CP ITG’s work with others. You can be involved as much or as little as you like with CPDG, and can unsubscribe from that email group at any time.

Return to the Pharmacy IT hub; CP ITG; Get involved; IT policy or IT a-z index

For more information on this topic please email it@cpe.org.uk

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