The chair of the Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB) has endorsed renewed efforts to increase the use of e-prescribing in secondary care.

Professor Maureen Baker was responding to Jeremy Hunt’s pledge of £75 million funding to help hospitals accelerate their e-prescribing implementation. The health and social care secretary claimed it would remove around half of errors.

Professor Baker, who previously chaired the Royal College of General Practitioners, told Digital Health News she endorsed this argument. She said more widespread use of e-prescribing in hospitals would “make a tremendous difference”.

“E-prescribing has been used in GP practices for some time and there is no doubt it reduces medical errors.

“This is because sometimes prescriptions can have unclear handwriting or have been crossed out and written over a number of times which can make them unreadable and means there is a chance for errors.”

She said there were also risks to medication safety when patients’ care transfers from one health and social care professional to another. The PRSB has been tasked by NHS Digital with developing shared record standards, and has been particularly focusing on discharge standards.

“Transfers of care are potentially dangerous for patients and there is considerable potential for medication errors to occur,” she said.

“The PRSB works to ensure that clinicians can get the right information for the right patient at the right time.

“We have built up a suite of standards for transfer of care which will allow this to happen. These standards outline what information needs to be shared through coded messaging, including updates on medications.”

Professor Baker argued that universal standards are needed across healthcare, including for e-prescribing.

“The process needs to be standardised across all hospitals,” she said.

National figures have long argued that the implementation of e-prescribing would significantly bolster patient safety. The first tech fund, announced in 2013, was initially explicitly intended to increase use of such systems across the NHS.

But takeup remains slow. Data from Digital Health Intelligence‘s Clinical Digital Maturity Index shows more than half of acute trusts still do not have inpatient e-prescribing in place.