Practices will soon be able to monitor and compare their antibiotic prescribing using a new data tool launched in Manchester, ahead of a national roll-out in the coming months.
The new dashboard, unveiled by Greater Manchester Connected Health City yesterday, uses anonymised data from 22 practices in Greater Manchester to analyse their prescribing patterns alongside national trends.
It has been developed by the University of Manchester and Public Health England and is aimed at reducing rates of antibiotic prescribing.
The dashboard allows GPs to ensure high-risk patients are getting the antibiotics they need and can also show whether a practice is prescribing according to guidelines.
Previous research has shown electronically-delivered prescribing feedback can reduce antibiotic prescribing by as much as 12%.
Although the information is currently anonymised, GPs may be able to identify specific patients in the future and request their prescribing data.
The data, which updates every two weeks following analysis by researchers, does not allow practices to compare themselves with other practices as it stands – but those behind the project hope that will be possible in the near future as more practices use the new tool.
Project manager Francine Jury said: ‘It’s an interactive dashboard where you can click on certain conditions and see which antibiotics have been prescribed.’
She added: ‘We’re hoping that GPs will be able to use this data to target their prescribing practice within their surgery so that they can help to reduce the amount of antibiotics they’re prescribing, whether that’s looking at prescribing according to the risk of complications for patients or whether we’re consistently prescribing according to the guidelines.’
She added: ‘Ideally what we’d like is to have local comparisons. If your local patient population is similar, you’d be able to make some real comparisons. What we have at the moment is where you place nationally.’
The dashboard is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care and is free for GPs and practice managers in the Greater Manchester area. Plans to roll out the tool nationally are due in the coming months.
The target forms part of the new UK 20-year vision for antimicrobial resistance and the five year plan – announced by health secretary Matt Hancock – which aims to control antimicrobial resistance by 2040.
Since 2014, the UK has cut the amount of antibiotics it uses by more than 7%, with sales of antibiotics for use in food-producing animals dropping by 40%.
In 2016 PHE announced GP antibiotic prescribing had decreased by 6% over three years, although research commissioned by the body stated that between 8% and 23% of all antibiotic prescriptions in primary care were still inappropriate – leading to PHE saying this number was as ‘at least’ 20% and setting a target to cut it in half.