Patient prioritisation for hospital pharmacy services: current approaches in the UK

Aseel S Abuzour, Gillian Hoad-Reddick, Memona Shahid, Douglas T Steinke, Mary P Tully, Steven David Williams, Penny J Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To survey and explore current approaches to deployment of pharmaceutical care prioritisation tools in acute hospitals in the UK.

METHODS: A national online survey was circulated electronically to chief pharmacists of hospitals to determine if they use a prioritisation tool or process. Where such mechanisms exist, respondents were invited to participate in a semistructured telephone interview to explore the development, evaluation and application of their tool and share relevant documentation. Interviews were transcribed and thematically analysed.

RESULTS: Seventy hospitals (70/130) used a tool or process to prioritise clinical pharmacy services. Thirty-six interviews were conducted, and two were excluded. The majority of tools had been developed in-house. Few hospitals had undertaken formal evaluations of their prioritisation tool. Pharmacy prioritisation tools ranged in complexity and often included a combination of pharmacy service prioritisation, such as medicines reconciliation, and a section to assign an individual patient prioritisation level. Determining the priority of a patient based on the identification of set indicators instilled confidence in pharmacists by ensuring they were not missing high-risk patients. Electronic prioritisation tools were especially useful at retrieving real-time data to prioritise workload, improving workflow and ensuring continuity in patient care. Drawbacks of using prioritisation tools included lack of tool sensitivity across certain specialties and time spent using the tool if not all information was accessible.

CONCLUSIONS: Prioritisation tools were seen to be useful for prioritising workload and ensuring the right patients are seen at the right time. As few hospitals had formally evaluated their tools, it is important to rigorously and systematically develop an evidence-based prioritisation tool that is both useable and acceptable. Further research to evaluate such tools would be needed to ensure it improves patient health outcomes and efficiency in pharmacy services.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Hospital Pharmacy - Science and Practice
Early online date1 Dec 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Dec 2020


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