‘Revolutionary’ new software is enabling a community pharmacist and a GP to improve care for patients with TB in Newham, east London – which has the highest incidence in the UK, at seven times the national average.
EMIS Web for Pharmacy - currently being piloted by pharmacist Jignesh Patel at the Rohpharm Pharmacy and GP Farzana Hussein at the nearby Project Surgery - is the first clinical system in the UK to enable pharmacists to read and write to a shared patient record with GPs. The pair have a 100% success rate in completing Latent TB Infection (LTBI) treatment to patients, while saving hours of admin per week.
The software is enabling them to identify and treat the dormant form of the disease, which significantly increases the lifetime chances of a patient developing full-blown TB. It is a major step forward in supporting pharmacists to play an enhanced role in patient care – a key objective for the profession – and to relieve pressure on general practice.
Jignesh, who is also a qualified prescriber, said the software is "fantastic. Up to now, we have never had a full picture of the patient’s full diagnosis or history, including attendances at A&E. The beauty of EMIS Web for Pharmacy is that I can pick things up straight away by looking at the notes. It means that time and money is saved and it improves patient care.”
When he receives a prescription from Farzana, he is alerted that the patient is starting treatment for latent TB and actively follows them up. She sends him three months of repeat dispensing electronically, and knows it’s being managed safely because of the shared record.
Using EMIS Web for Pharmacy, Jignesh can check the patient’s history, X-rays, possible drug contraindications and liver function test results. He can also book follow-up GP appointments for the patient if necessary and send referrals to other healthcare providers.
“Before, I would hope and pray that the prescription actually got to the pharmacist and that the patient understood what they were taking.
“Now, I’m confident that my pharmacy colleagues can check test results and dispense appropriately, and also have a consultation with the patient.
She added: “This has really completed the cycle for me. Patients are more honest with a pharmacist about whether or not they have taken their medication and the barriers they may be facing in complying with treatment, and that is another reason I think this scheme has been so successful.”
She expects to see a reduction in the incidence of active TB among her 4,000 patients in the next three to four years.
The TB pilot in Newham is opening up the prospect of using EMIS Web for Pharmacy for other new models of working in disease areas like diabetes, hypertension and HIV.
Shanel Raichura, General Manager of Community Pharmacy for EMIS Health, said: “This product is genuinely a game-changer for community pharmacy in the UK. For the first time, the technology is available to support the pharmacy profession in its goal of providing new and enhanced clinical services, beyond dispensing.
“For the wider NHS, it offers a practical way to reduce pressure on a stretched primary care system by enabling commissioners to take a more serious view of what community pharmacy can provide.”