Patients leaving hospital helped to stay safe through pharmacy support

Patients leaving hospital in Tameside and Glossop are now being offered extra support taking their prescribed medicines as part of a new digital health project designed to keep them safe from harm after a hospital stay.

Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust has launched the Transfers of Care Around Medicines (TCAM) project, an electronic pharmacy referral system. TCAM aims to help patients who need additional support taking their prescribed medicines following a hospital stay, including those patients who have recovered from coronavirus (COVID-19).

This may be because their medicines have changed, or they need a bit of help taking their medicines safely and effectively. The new system provides information about a patient’s stay at hospital, along with details of medications provided and prescribed, direct to their nominated local community pharmacy. Once received, the pharmacist can arrange a consultation with the patient, if they feel it is necessary to review or change the patient’s medication and to provide support, aiming to reduce avoidable harm following discharge.

Since the project launched in Tameside earlier this year 155 patients have completed a medication review with a pharmacist. The project aims to save the NHS money by reducing readmissions and the time patients spend in hospital. 

Jonathan Peacock, Chief Pharmacist at Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Before we introduced TCAM, we relied on fax machines to share information about a patient’s medication with their community pharmacy on discharge.  

“This was a time consuming and slow process for our pharmacy team and it often meant a delay in the community pharmacy receiving the information. The digital TCAM system is much quicker and easier to complete as it is built into our electronic patient record and allows for secure transfer of patient information direct to their local community pharmacy and GP.”

Health Innovation Manchester, the organisation responsible for accelerating proven innovation into Greater Manchester’s health and social care services at pace, is supporting the accelerated rollout of TCAM to support the response to COVID-19. 

Amanda Risino, Health Innovation Manchester’s Managing Director, said: “Supporting patients after a hospital stay and reducing repeat hospital admissions has never been more important than it is now with the current COVID-19 situation.

“Patients tell us they don't always remember everything they are told in hospital, particularly with new medications, so it can be very helpful to have someone go through it again, discussing side effects and checking they understand how to take their medications effectively.

“TCAM is a great example of how digital innovation can improve the discharge process to ensure patients get the best care and have a reduced risk of harmful effects following a hospital stay.

The discharge process is associated with an increased risk of adverse effects. Around 60% of patients have three or more changes made to their medicines during a hospital.

Early research in the TCAM project has found that patients who see their community pharmacist after they’ve been in hospital are less likely to be readmitted and, if they are, will experience a shorter stay.

The launch in Tameside and Glossop follows the successful introduction of TCAM in Salford in 2019, with over 2,000 medication reviews completed. It is estimated that readmission rates to hospital due to medication errors within the first 30 days of discharge have reduced from 16% to 6%. 

TCAM is also one of the projects selected for spread nationally through Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), including Health Innovation Manchester.

Nationally, with rapid adoption across all 15 AHSNs, TCAM has the potential to save £28.8 million, based on a reduction in length of stay of 113,406 days and 2,007 fewer readmissions.