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Br J Gen Pract. 2019 Jul 1. pii: bjgp19X704597. doi: 10.3399/bjgp19X704597. [Epub ahead of print]

Quality improvement of prescribing safety: a pilot study in primary care using UK electronic health records.

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Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, London.
Royal College of General Practitioners, London.



Quality improvement (QI) is a priority for general practice, and GPs are expected to participate in and provide evidence of QI activity. There is growing interest in harnessing the potential of electronic health records (EHR) to improve patient care by supporting practices to find cases that could benefit from a medicines review.


To develop scalable and reproducible prescribing safety reports using patient-level EHR data.


UK general practices that contribute de-identified patient data to the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD).


A scoping phase used stakeholder consultations to identify primary care QI needs and potential indicators. QI reports containing real data were sent to 12 pilot practices that used Vision GP software and had expressed interest. The scale-up phase involved automating production and distribution of reports to all contributing practices that used both Vision and EMIS software systems. Benchmarking reports with patient-level case review lists for two prescribing safety indicators were sent to 457 practices in December 2017 following the initial scale-up (Figure 2).


Two indicators were selected from the Royal College of General Practitioners Patient Safety Toolkit following stakeholder consultations for the pilot phase involving 12 GP practices. Pilot phase interviews showed that reports were used to review individual patient care, implement wider QI actions in the practice, and for appraisal and revalidation.


Electronic health record data can be used to provide standardised, reproducible reports that can be delivered at scale with minimal resource requirements. These can be used in a national QI initiative that impacts directly on patient care.


electronic health records; general practice; primary care databases; quality improvement

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