What is an information prescription?
An information prescription is a selection of content for a specific individual to support their health or care needs. The information prescription may be generated using the Information Prescription Service on the NHS Choices website or it may be a compilation of booklets and other pre-printed materials. The distinctive feature of an information prescription is that it is a personalised selection of content, rather than a single booklet or a standardised information pack. In Scotland, information prescriptions are referred to as Tailored Information for the People of Scotland, or TIPS.
How do they work?
Like a medical prescription, information prescriptions can be offered by a professional to an individual, with the selection of content based on an assessment of the individual’s information needs. Alternatively, people can self-prescribe information from the Information Prescription Service. The content within the Information Prescription Service includes sections of text, categorised by the ‘key information point’ or stage in someone’s experience of a long-term health condition, alongside details about local and national support services. Information from the Information Prescription Service can be printed or emailed to the service user.
What are the benefits?
As information prescriptions are tailored to the individual, they are specific to information needs at a particular point in time. This means that people are not overwhelmed by information, or confused by details that may not be relevant to them. It also means that people have a choice over the subject matter, volume and style of the information that they receive.
Information prescriptions are currently being developed across all long-term health conditions, but the most intensive support for implementation has been in cancer. The cancer activity has been the result of a partnership between the National Cancer Action Team (NCAT) and the voluntary sector, with Macmillan Cancer Support funding a team of information prescription facilitators within NCAT and Cancer Research UK funding evaluation of the programme. With changes in the NHS, the activity will be led by a team within Macmillan from January 2013. In Scotland, NHS Inform is piloting Tailored Information for the People of Scotland, outcomes of which will be available towards the end of 2013.
- Focus on personalisation – develop processes that help you to meet individual needs within the context of local resource constraints (such as printer access or email restrictions)
- Involve your Information Governance lead early if you think that you will be emailing information prescriptions or using the personalised cover note option on the Information Prescription Service
- Check what is already provided on the Information Prescription Service: if you are thinking of developing a local leaflet, you may find that the content already exists that meets your needs