Digital services to bring efficiency and transparency to the prescribing process

My Topol fellowship problem / project:

In the dermatology department we use a variety of medications for patients with severe skin conditions that are expensive, require close monitoring with blood tests and have to be handled with care due to their sensitivity to temperature changes. The logistical challenge of monitoring this cohort of patients is compounded by the fact that across the NHS a lot of these products are supplied to patients at home through third-party partnerships with ‘homecare’ companies. Each company has their own custom, paper-based forms to fill in and send in the post whenever a patient starts a drug that they supply or needs their prescription for the drug renewing.

My project is the creation of software that will help streamline this situation by allowing for electronic prescribing, checking by the pharmacy team and transmission of the prescription to the third-party homecare companies. The current paper-based approach is time-consuming to fill-in, has a risk of getting lost in transport, can cause delays to the start of a patient’s treatment whilst waiting for delivery of the documents and makes it really hard to get problems fixed if errors or omissions are made in the paperwork. An electronic solution will present a raft of exciting possibilities for increasing efficiency and information security. It will also provide much-needed transparency to a process that is very opaque at present.

I am the Lead Clinical Pharmacist for Dermatology at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. I have been a pharmacist for 6 years. In that time I’ve worked across a variety of clinical specialties on wards and within directorates, as well as in more technically-oriented services in the pharmacy like aseptic production and chemotherapy. My current role in dermatology is a position that was made permanent in 2020 after a secondment to the department demonstrated the value of pharmacist integration to the service. I am making use of my post-graduate training in prescribing and clinical dermatology to manage acne patients and have been actively working to unify prescribing and monitoring practice within the department for the safe and effective use of drugs. Pursuing changes that will save time and make best use of NHS funds have been central to my approach.