The pharmacy department at University Hospital Aintree, Liverpool has won the 2004 First DataBank Guild of Healthcare Pharmacist Information Technology Award for its effective electronic transfer of discharge prescriptions pilot.

The University Hospital Aintree pharmacy department was chosen for its development of a system to transfer patient discharge information securely and quickly between the hospital and primary care, which impressed the judges with its simplicity and effectiveness. 

The effective electronic transfer of discharge prescriptions pilot solves the potentially dangerous problem of missing information or illegibility on discharge by using an automated scanning and emailing system. 

Using the system developed the department calculates that a day’s worth of prescriptions – approximately 150 – can be scanned and emailed within 10 minutes, providing marked savings in time and effort.  In the absence of full electronic prescribing, this system was judged to provide a significant improvement over the existing fax and postal procedures. 

Now in its second year the First DataBank Guild of Healthcare Pharmacist Information Technology Award is intended to encourage, support and promote information technology initiatives and best practice in the use of IT in pharmacy.  The pharmacy department will receive a cheque for £2500 at the GHP IT Interest Group Seminar in Warwick on 28th April.

The team at University Hospital Aintree had to overcome issues such as producing a robust software platform and solving security issues.  Their solution was to design a safe and efficient system where batches of prescriptions are scanned and emailed with little user input. 

Alex Jennings, clinical pharmacist for Elderly Medicine, said: “We were faced with significant challenges with this project but now have in place an effective system which ensures that we email a legible copy of each discharge prescription, in batches, to each participating general practitioner within one day of discharge. 

Speaking of the benefits of the system he said: “It has significantly improved communication with our primary care colleagues, saves time and the potential improvements in patient safety are enormous.  Winning this award will enable us to extend the pilot to other practices in the catchment area and help us explore the transfer of other critical correspondence in this manner.”

Graeme Richardson, chair of the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists IT Interest Group said. “In the end the winning entry was selected for the innovative use of readily available, easy to implement, highly automated and relatively cheap technology that directly benefits patients and NHS staff across the primary/secondary care interface – a real win-win!".

Robin Glasspoole, product manager at First DataBank said “We too were most impressed with this project and are delighted that it won the 2004 Award, we hope very much that the money will help them extend the service across the region.”