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Agile and adaptive, the future pharmacy

Encouraging collaboration, not competition, is a must. NHS England needs to work with all health-care providers, including pharmacies, to make this happen.

Integrated patient-centred care encompasses my vision for the future of health care in the UK, with pharmacy right at the heart. Funding challenges for the NHS and predictions for the future are stark reminders of the need for a change in the way the system works, and health-care providers must develop better ways of working in collaboration to deliver the most effective care for patients with chronic conditions. Initiating change in how patients access the NHS, and their attitudes towards how they use it, is also a challenge that needs to be addressed to nurture a sustainable health-care structure.

As the most frequently visited healthcare destination in the UK, the community pharmacy has a huge opportunity to forge a path in new ways of thinking and working for the benefit of patients who need us the most. Engaging face-toface with communities, to help people get the right care, at the right time, in the right place and with expert health-care advice and support, is something we have been working hard to offer our patients for many years, whether our pharmacists are dispensing medicines, providing advice or delivering cost-effective condition screening. In the 11 years since we launched our free Type 2 diabetes screening, we have delivered more than 1.5 million consultations.

Taken from ‘The Chronic Conundrum: Enabling Integrated Patient-Centred Care’ New Statesman policy report

We have to stop thinking about health care in clear definitions of clinical expertise and start thinking about how the system can be harmonised to deliver more effective patient outcomes, both across national frameworks and in local commissioning areas. We must become more agile and adaptive to meet the needs of the future and use pharmacy to its full potential.

At Celesio UK we are continually investing in the future of pharmacy by developing new experiences and solutions to enhance the entire patient journey. Our plans are underpinned by our expert pharmacists forming trusted, meaningful relationships with patients, yet we are thinking big, with the aim of changing the face of health care for ever.

People are living longer, leading busier lives and are looking for more convenient access to health-care solutions that make their lives easier. Technology is advancing at such a pace that the health-care system, including community pharmacy, needs to embrace it. As part of this, we are developing ways of working with new technology that will free up the pharmacist’s time to spend with patients in order to improve health outcomes.

We have also begun providing wearable technology devices through our pharmacies, with plans to create apps that can be used with the technology, so customers can monitor such things as blood pressure, weight and cholesterol, on a daily basis. Being more informed about their health, and how their behaviour affects their wellbeing, will encourage better self-care. My vision for the future is to partner with other parties, such as GPs and health centres or gyms to bring customers’ health information together in one place, and empower patients to have more control of their own health.

The effective use of data is critical for us to identify patients who are experiencing difficulties with their medicines and provide an intervention programme that supports these patients – personalised, outcome-focused and making best use of the skills of the pharmacist. Studies in the United States have shown that every dollar spent on improving compliance and closing gaps in treatment leads to a greater reduction in overall health-care costs.

Taken from ‘The Chronic Conundrum: Enabling Integrated Patient-Centred Care’ New Statesman policy report

The key to this is simple: take the pharmacist’s expertise with medicines, use technology to ensure we get true insight from our patient data, and proactively support patients to ensure they are getting the most from their medicines. We are working with a number of clinical commissioning groups to build these models.

Integrating these models and encouraging professions to work together rather than feel they are competing must be a step forward that we all need to take, and NHS England needs to work with all health-care providers, including pharmacy, to make that happen. Health-care providers need to work collaboratively and must believe they each have an important role in a future health-care system. It will take leadership, innovation, a willingness to partner and invest in a future that puts patients at the centre. We have to stop talking and start to deliver.

This feature first appeared in a New Statesman 16 page special policy report called The Chronic Conundrum: Enabling Integrated Patient-Centred Care produced in partnership with Merck Serono and Celesio UK, published on the 20th November 2014.

Cormac Tobin, managing director of Celesio UK, which includes Lloyds Pharmacy and AAH Pharmaceuticals.