GP Connect: Update Record rolls out to most pharmacies

EMIS Pinnacle started rolling out the GP Connect Update Record feature to all community pharmacy teams using PharmOutcomes from Friday 28th June 2024. Initially, this covers Hypertension Case-finding Service and Pharmacy Contraception Service consultations.

Update Record is a new feature that CPCF IT system suppliers have been adding to their systems, with Cegedim and Positive Solutions having previously rolled out the functionality.

Update Record allows information about patient consultations outside of general practice to be shared safely with general practice, so the information can be updated in the patient record.

The messages are ‘structured’ which means they transfer into the GP system in a consistent and standardised way that systems can ‘read’. This allows them to be easily filed.

The system will initially support community pharmacies to share information with GP practices about consultations performed under the Pharmacy First (minor illness and clinical pathways), Hypertension Case Finding and Pharmacy Contraception services. In the future, this will expand to include updates for urgent supply of medicines under the Pharmacy First service.

IT system suppliers will communicate with their users when they add the feature to their system.

Cegedim’s Pharmacy Services system launched this feature in April, and Positive Solutions’ HXConsult system followed in May. Together, they have already sent over 44,000 structured updates to date.

Live testing continues with Sonar for Hypertension Case-finding Service, Pharmacy Contraception Service, and Pharmacy First consultations, as well as with EMIS Pinnacle for Pharmacy First minor illness and clinical pathways. Further updates will be provided as other systems roll out nationally.

Further information on Update Record

The user interface for pharmacy staff does not change with the implementation of Update Record. Pharmacy staff will continue to record and submit consultation information as they have been.

The difference with Update Record is when the consultation has been completed, the information is automatically shared within the GP system, rather than being sent as a PDF via NHSmail.

Update Record means that GP practice staff no longer have to spend time manually finding records and transcribing information from PDF letters sent by NHSmail. Records will be sent straight into the GP systems in a standardised format and practices can either choose to have them automatically filed into the patient record, or set the system so that they can be viewed by practice staff and the information can then be filed with the click of a button. This will save time, speed up the transfer of information to make updates to records more timely and reduce transcribing errors.

The messages will contain the same information as was previously received through NHSmail, they will just be easier to manage once they arrive in the practice system.

Update Record also means that patients can be confident that information about their recent consultations is shared safely, promptly and will be included in their record more quickly, so that other practice staff and the wider health and care workforce can see relevant information to support future care.

This is because the information in the GP record feeds the systems that other health and care professionals (for example hospital teams) use to see relevant information about a patient when they need care. It also means that this information is also visible in patient facing services, including the NHS App.

Important information for pharmacy teams on Update Record

Visibility of information via patient facing services or Summary Care Record

Patient facing services allow patients and proxy users to see their medical record via online services and apps, such as the NHS App. Proxy users can be anyone who has been given access to view someone else’s medical record, such as a parent or carer.

Pharmacy teams should work on the basis that when a consultation record is submitted, the information shared will be available to GPs, other health and care providers and patients (and their proxy users) via patient facing services.

Consequently, clinical records should not include any information that should not be viewed via patient facing services or by clinicians in other care settings.

There may be instances where a pharmacist will want to send the consultation information to a GP practice via NHSmail, for example, where there is a safeguarding concern or another reason why a patient may not want their consultation details visible via patient facing services (for example, proxy users).

When providing the Pharmacy Contraception Service, there may be a safeguarding concern or another reason why a patient may not want their consultation details visible via patient facing services or Summary Care Record. For example, where a person under 16 year old is receiving contraception services and may not want others to see this information. In these cases, pharmacists should capture in the consultation record that the patient does not consent to their information being shared with the GP.

Communicating urgent information to GP practices

Update Record is designed to send routine consultation information to GP practices.

It is not to be used for communicating urgent information and it does not replace your usual methods for contacting the GP practice when action needs to be taken for a patient. Pharmacy staff should continue to use existing contact methods for this information.

Message notifications and failures

Messages may be rejected for a number of reasons. For example, a patient is not registered at the practice, or the practice has chosen not to enable messages via Update Record (practices can choose when to switch on over a 3-month window) or a technical issue exists.

In the case of message failure, the system supplier should notify users and users should resend the message using NHSmail. This process varies between systems; consult supplier guidance for specific guidance.

Ordinarily, notifications that cannot be sent via GP Connect Update Record, will be sent by PharmOutcomes to a secure email where a GP practice has confirmed an email address to EMIS PharmOutcomes. However, in the absence of a valid email address for the practice, the pharmacist (or other pharmacy team member) must ensure the notification is sent via an alternative method, e.g. via email or manually printed and delivered. This requirement is described within the relevant Advanced service specification.

Pharmacy agreement to use of GP Connect and data controller responsibilities

Pharmacy responsibilities as the data controller have not changed as a result of this new system.

The same duties of transparency apply as before and patients should be made aware that their data is being shared under the legal basis of implied consent for direct care. The system has been nationally assured as being safe, secure and meeting appropriate standards for sharing clinical information.

Pharmacy owners registering to provide the Pharmacy First service via the Manage Your Service (MYS) system confirmed their acceptance of use of GP Connect.

The requirements around use of GP Connect include that it will only be used for direct care. It is also necessary that the annual Data Security and Protection Toolkit is completed each year (this is already a regulatory requirement for all pharmacies) and pharmacy procedures align with data protection legislation.

The patient privacy notice template from our data security templates webpage explains to patients that relevant clinical information may be shared with the NHS and other healthcare professionals as appropriate. This template can be used to cover the usage of GP Connect.

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