Creating a single standard for medication information will bolster interoperability and support the delivery of cost savings, a speaker has told the Digital Health Rewired Leadership Summit.

The national leader argued such a standard was in development and would offer the potential to save “huge amounts of money”.

“Making all medication messages anywhere in the health service interoperable and machine readable – that’s the objective,” the speaker told the audience today in London.

“It means from a direct care point of view we can now accurately understand what a patient’s medication list is as they are transferred between any two points of care; that in itself would be marvellous.

“We could then end up in a world where the concept of prescriptions as we know them is redundant. A genuine understanding of how we use medicines across the NHS is an opportunity to save money, we are estimating huge amounts of money that could be saved by better use of prescribing.”

The building blocks are in place to create a single medication information standard according to the speaker and national organisations are currently in talks with suppliers to “make this land” in the coming year.

“The aim is to enforce it as a standard so everyone knows what they’re aiming for but to put it in a timeframe that does not cause undue burden.

“Personally I would rather have guaranteed perfection in five years than a rushed and botched implementation in one to two.”

Reliability of information would also be key, the speaker argued.

“If we are going to get to a point where we are sharing electronic records freely across the NHS then all of us, citizens and clinicians, need to have absolute assurance of the information we are looking at.

“We need to understand who put it in there and when. That means any time any of us interact with any information system we need to leave our unique digital fingerprint. We need a single electronic identity for staff.”

The speaker also mentioned the NHS Long Term Plan which, in its preparation, was “a bit like sausages, the sizzle is wonderful at the end of it but you don’t want to watch it being made”.

Now the plan has been finalised, the speaker suggested it provides clear, anchored commitments for technology in the healthcare sector.