See Data on the Individual Drugs in our Prescribing Measures

Today we launch another new feature on OpenPrescribing. As you will probably know, we have various standard prescribing measures which show how a practice or CCG is prescribing in comparison with their peers. These are presented as percentages or rates, and often the maths is very simple: what is the proportion of “undesirable drug” divided by “all drugs in that class”. But sometimes there are lots of drugs in the “numerator”, the top half of the equation.

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What is a Dormant GP practice, and why are they prescribing?

At OpenPrescribing, we provide tools for analysing prescribing behaviour in primary care in the NHS in England. If you work with prescribing data, you may have noticed that practices which are “dormant” apparently continue to prescribe. This short article explains why, for the curious. What is a Dormant practice? Our prescribing data comes from the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), who are responsible for processing dispensing information supplied by pharmacies. Each line of the data includes a practice code which uniquely identifies the GP Practice that issued the prescription.

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Our New Tool Finds Over £100m in New Cost Savings for the NHS

Today we are launching something very exciting: a new tool that identifies over £100m in new prescribing cost savings for the NHS. The average practice can save £50,166 a year by using our tool. These are vastly bigger savings than any other current advice such as “always prescribe generically”. You can use the tool right now, online, for free, at our service: just look for the “experimental measures” link on any CCG or GP practice page.

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Prescribing Data: Using the Dictionary of medicines and devices

Recently, we’ve been experimenting with integrating the Dictionary of medicines and devices (dm+d) into our prescribing data. dm+d is the standard dictionary for the medicines and devices used across the NHS, and it contains codes and descriptions for these medicines. There are several benefits to using dm+d; the most useful side-effect is to allow us to show user-friendly names for drugs. The canonical names for drugs in the NHS prescribing data are sometimes very hard to read.

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Downloading data from OpenPrescribing

We’ve recently added the option to download your results from the Analyse searches you complete on OpenPrescribing. There are now three ways to download data from the site. We do also offer free custom extracts, so if there is anything you are struggling to get from the website yourself send us an e-mail.Update: Due to resource limitations we are no longer able to offer free custom extracts. If you download and use any data from OpenPrescribing please link back to us or cite us.

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Prescribing Data: BNF Codes

OpenPrescribing takes open datasets from NHS Digital and NHS Business Services Authority, and makes it easy for people to explore the prescribing dataset. We also use this dataset in our research, and offer bespoke data extracts from the prescribing dataset for researchers, clinicians and NHS staff (get in touch!). In this series of blog posts we’ll explain key concepts and share our knowledge of the prescribing dataset. In the first blog, we take a look at BNF codes.

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'Low Value' Prescription Items

Today NHS England announced it is reviewing the prescribing of medicines which it deems to be “ineffective, unnecessary [and] inappropriate for prescription on the NHS”. We make no comment here on whether it is a good or a bad idea for the NHS to stop prescribing these items. We are keen that everyone in the NHS should use data better, to help understand who is prescribing what, and below we show how you can use OpenPrescribing to investigate the prescribing of these items in your area.

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OpenPrescribing E-mail Alerts

We launched our e-mail alerts on OpenPrescribing to help people keep track of prescribing trends at their GP Practice or CCG. Our alerts send you a monthly e-mail highlighting any new signals in our prescribing measures (including the new measures we launched this month!). This will help you keep track of changes in prescribing, as our alerts can help you find changes that might otherwise be difficult to spot by eye.

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OpenPrescribing - new measures now available

We’ve been spending some time at OpenPrescribing designing a set of new measures to identify interesting variations in prescribing behaviour across the country. We’ve talked to people from CCGs, and have looked (via Freedom of Information requests) at a number of CCG schemes for improving prescribing, and have come up with a number of areas that we think are important. Some, like the opioids measure, are important for both cost and clinical reasons.

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