Patients stay safe with new community pharmacy support

Electronic pharmacy referral system provides additional support for patients taking prescribed medication following a hospital stay at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust

The new initiative will ensure patients discharged from hospital take prescribed medicines correctly

Patients leaving hospital in Salford are being offered extra support taking prescribed medicines as part of a new digital health project designed to keep them safe after a hospital stay.

Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust is the first trust in Greater Manchester to launch the new Transfers of Care Around Medicines (TCAM) project, an electronic pharmacy referral system.

TCAM aims to help patients who need additional support taking prescribed medicines following a hospital stay.

This may be because their medicines have changed, or they need a bit of help taking their medicines safely and effectively.

It is a great example of how digital innovation can improve the discharge process to ensure patients get the best care and have a reduced risk of harmful effects following a hospital stay

The new system provides information about a patient’s stay at hospital, along with details of medications provided and prescribed, direct to their nominated local community pharmacy.

Once received, the pharmacist can arrange a consultation with the patient if they feel it is necessary to review or change the patient’s medication and to provide support, helping to reduce avoidable harm following discharge.

Since the project launched earlier this year, more than 350 patients have been included in the system, with 230 already completing a medication review with a pharmacist.

All wards in the trust, which is part of the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group with Pennine Acute NHS Hospitals Trust, are participating in the initiative, which aims to save the NHS money by reducing readmissions and the time patients spend in hospital.

Salford Royal’s director of pharmacy, Lindsay Harper, said: “Before the introduction of the TCAM system, the hospital pharmacy staff faxed information regarding a patient’s medicines to the patient’s community pharmacy when a patient was discharged.

“Often the community pharmacy did not receive the information in a timely manner.

Patients tell us they don't always remember everything they are told in hospital, particularly with new medications, so it can be very helpful to have someone go through it again, discussing side effects and checking they understand how to take their medications effectively

“Now, with the TCAM system, community pharmacists are reliably receiving the information regarding a patient’s discharge medicines much quicker.

"The system has also saved time for our pharmacy team as the e-referral is a quicker and easier way to make a referral as it is built into the electronic patient record.”

Health Innovation Manchester, the organisation responsible for accelerating proven innovation into Greater Manchester’s health and social care services at pace, is supporting the rollout of the system in the region.

Dr Tracey Vell, its clinical director, said: “Patients tell us they don't always remember everything they are told in hospital, particularly with new medications, so it can be very helpful to have someone go through it again, discussing side effects and checking they understand how to take their medications effectively.

“TCAM keeps people safe after they leave hospital and aims to improve their recovery.

“It is a great example of how digital innovation can improve the discharge process to ensure patients get the best care and have a reduced risk of harmful effects following a hospital stay.

It will deliver benefits for the hospital by reducing repeat admissions and how long patients have to stay in hospitals

“It will also deliver benefits for the hospital by reducing repeat admissions and how long patients have to stay in hospitals.”

The discharge process is associated with an increased risk of adverse effects. And around 60% of patients have three or more changes made to their medicines during a hospital.

Early research in the TCAM project has found that patients who see their community pharmacist after they’ve been in hospital are less likely to be readmitted and, if they are, will experience a shorter stay.

TCAM is also one of the project selected for national rollout through Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), including Health Innovation Manchester.

Nationally, with rapid adoption across all 15 AHSNs, TCAM has the potential to save £28.8m based on a reduction in length of stay of 113,406 days and 2,007 fewer re-admissions.

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