National Institiue for Health and Clinical Excellence

Annual Review - 2012/2013

Prescribing advice at the touch of a button

The British National Formulary (BNF) and British National Formulary for Children (BNFC) provide UK healthcare professionals with authoritative and practical information on the selection and clinical use of medicines in a clear, concise and accessible manner.

They are published jointly by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the British Medical Association, with NICE responsible for providing NHS access to these publications.

In 2012/13, NICE developed two new apps to make it easier for busy health and social care professionals to access the latest up-to-date prescribing information at the touch of a button.

The first app to launch, in June 2012, was the NICE BNF app which is free for users of Android and iPhone smartphones via the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

The app will help transform the way people access the BNF - the most widely-used medicines information resource within the NHS.

It enables users to browse and search full content from BNF, receive notifications when new editions and updates are available, bookmark content and even choose their preferred reading settings.

Once downloaded, the app can be run without an internet connection meaning that professionals can access the BNF wherever they are.

Users need to simply enter their NHS Athens user name and password to activate the app and download the content.

Eligible health and care professionals in England who do not yet have an NHS Athens password can register for free online or directly from their Smartphone by following the instruction displayed in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Social care staff in England who meet the NHS Athens eligibility criteria can also download and access the content.

Sir Andrew Dillon Chief Executive of NICE said: "Ensuring staff have access to the latest high quality information to deliver the best possible patient care has always been very important to NICE.

"The growing use of smartphones has created a new culture and means for people to access information while on the move.

"The NICE BNF app looks great and is easy to use. And because you don't need internet access once the app is downloaded, it means that professionals can be reassured they can get access to the BNF wherever they may be delivering care."

In September 2012, NICE followed up the success of the BNF app with a new app specifically for BNFC.

The NICE BNFC app presents essential practical information to help prescribe, monitor, supply, and administer medicines for childhood disorders.

Covering neonates to adolescents, the BNFC app includes key clinical and pharmaceutical information, organised by the familiar BNF Classification.

The app deals with the drug management of childhood conditions more extensively than the BNF and includes greater detail on the unlicensed use of medicines, and specialist neonatal and paediatric interventions.

The NICE BNFC app is also available free to health and social care professionals who work for or who are contracted by NHS England, and can be downloaded via the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Dr Hilary Cass, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "Children are not mini adults so prescribing them the correct medication at the right dose and at the right time is crucial when delivering the best possible care.

“This informative app will allow clinicians to do this anywhere, at any time, safely, accurately and quickly, which will leave them more time to do what they do best - seeing and treating their patients.”

Sir Andrew Dillon, added: "NICE is determined to play a leading role in the digital revolution taking place in health and social care. Information is our business and we want to be at the forefront of the rapidly changing technological environment.

"Our continued collaboration with BNF Publications means that the introduction of the NICE BNFC app will help meet demand among the increasing numbers of health and care professionals who want to access high quality information on the move via their smartphone or tablet.”

Key features of the BNF apps

  • Information and advice on the drug management of common conditions.
  • Details of medicines prescribed within the UK with reference to their uses, cautions, contra-indications, side-effects, doses and relative costs.
  • Advice on prescribing, monitoring, dispensing and administering medicines.
  • Search for drugs by name using the auto-complete search.
  • Receive notifications when new editions or updates are available.
  • Bookmark content for easy access.

The app will help transform the way people access the BNF - the most widely-used medicines information resource within the NHS