Healthcare IT system supplier EMIS has announced plans to integrate its primary care software with the pharmacy software supplied by Rx Systems.

EMIS acquired a majority stake in Rx Systems in August last year and the two companies have now outlined plans for future systems integration in three areas.

The two suppliers said this would help community pharmacists expand their services and play a greater role in the wider healthcare team, while benefiting patients, GPs and the wider NHS efficiency agenda.

The companies aim to link Rx Systems’ ProScript pharmacy software with EMIS software so ProScript users can manage and order a patient’s repeat prescription via a direct electronic message into the GP surgery.

The companies said the link would also enable a pharmacist and a GP to correspond directly and securely about any checks that were needed on the prescription, instead of using telephone or fax.

They argue the link will enhance the functionality in the electronic transfer of prescription systems offered across the UK.

EMIS and Rx Systems said technical development work on the enhancements was “at an early stage” but progress was expected during 2011.

A longer term project aims to develop links between pharmacies and the electronic GP record. This could include automatic messaging between pharmacy and GP IT systems, pharmacy access to relevant information from the GP record, and links between GP prescribing records and pharmacy dispensing records so GPs can monitor medication compliance.

EMIS said access to the GP record would be subject to strict data sharing agreements and patient consent, but it could be useful to pharmacists for services such as long term condition management reviews and allergy checking.

EMIS said it is also in discussion with Rx Systems about the potential to include enhanced clinical information for pharmacists in the ProScript system.

This could include integrated links to the BNF and to patient information leaflets and drug information leaflets that could be downloaded and printed to support a patient consultation.

Ian Taylor, Rx Systems’ managing director, said the ultimate aim was to enable pharmacy to take on an enhanced role in the care of patients.

He added: “Although it is still very early days for the partnership with EMIS, we have a clear vision of what we want to achieve and we are very excited about the potential.

“The move to GP commissioning brings pharmacy a step closer to fulfilling the role it aspires to.

"With the right IT in place, there will be new opportunities to offer proactive patient-focused services that will save the NHS time and money, in line with the recommendations in the NHS white paper.

"At the same time, there will also be an opportunity to generate new revenue for the sector.”

Sean Riddell, chief executive of the EMIS group, said: “EMIS is highly experienced at providing ‘joined up’ IT solutions that enable different members of the healthcare team to securely share information from the GP patient record – saving time and improving patient care.

“It’s a natural next step for us to look at community pharmacy and consider how we can use IT to strengthen the links between pharmacy and other healthcare professionals.”