Clinical Pharmacists in Primary Care Networks: Key Messages for Industry

Industry, are you already purposefully engaging and activating this new clinical pharmacist workforce in Primary Care Networks (PCNs)? We are still finding companies that are leaving it to luck as to whether their field team encounters and can source PCN clinical pharmacists. Even more problematically, they are leaving it to the agility of the field team as to whether they understand their needs and can provide a value offer to these customers.

With this new group of prescribers equating to 7,000 clinical pharmacists in the next four years (estimate based on 1200 PCNs with an average target of 5-6 pharmacists each), this workforce should be ignored at your own risk. With every PCN likely to already have at least 2 clinical pharmacists by April 2021, you need an effective wholescale strategy to engage and activate. Clinical pharmacists are vital clinicians for you to be accessing and communicating with —­­ whether you have a primary care product or a secondary care product that will continue to be prescribed in primary care — they are fast becoming the key interface and influencer between primary and secondary care as well as CCG medicines optimisation teams. They really are growing in importance and power; senior PCN pharmacists often have a seat at the PCN executive board and therefore are influencing investment, service development, priority-setting, and prescribing choices for their populations.

The key for Industry is having the right proposition that is meeting their needs. Frustratingly for these PCN Pharmacists, they are being bombarded with savings propositions by Industry who are still grappling with understanding their specific priorities and differentiating them from the practice-based pharmacist role of old.

So what? Five key messages for industry:

1.    Read, understand, and act on the PCN DES.

If you are not already fully au fait with the opportunities and challenges of the PCN DES (Directed Enhanced Scheme) for your portfolio, then you are unlikely to be switched onto their needs. The emphasis of the DES and therefore, the funding that comes with it, is on driving up quality and safety by stratifying and reviewing the patients with the highest risk. This will require a specific and targeted emphasis on the communications your teams have with this role1

2.    Know how to connect to the SMR priorities.

The latest guidance (effective from 1st October 2020) for Structured Medication Reviews (SMRs)2, could make or break for your products and therapy areas. The Clinical Pharmacist will lead on the delivery of these SMRs and there are specific patient cohorts that are targeted as part of this. This really is a key read as this is an integral part of the DES- please note that, even if your products are not on one of the groups listed, there should be ample levers for you to connect with — you just need to know how!

3.    Become relevant to their role

With a cross-functional team including market access, brand, and sales teams, we recommend crystallising a specific strategy that will make you and your portfolio relevant. This should cover the following:

  • Activation strategy of PCN Clinical Pharmacists with targeted segmentation of the spectrum of GP Clinical Pharmacists in PCNs. We have identified four key categories based on our extensive experience
  • Value proposition covering the reason to engage and how you can support them to deliver on their priorities
  • Implementation offers a spectrum of support depending on the segmentation of the customers. For example, you may offer a different implementation offer to lead pharmacists implementing QI as you would to a pharmacist wanting to run specific long-term condition clinics
4.     Have a short, medium, and long-term strategy and plan.

The PCN clinical pharmacist is here to stay and you need to be committed to their long-term development and growth in these formative years – if these contacts are not important yet, give them a few years and they will be! Consider convening a faculty together to fully understand what their potential interest and power is on your portfolio and what development and implementation support is needed.

5.    Think beyond the individual clinical pharmacist.

Although we have built a case here about the importance of the PCN Clinical Pharmacist, you need to think broader than the individual clinician, think of the PCN pharmacy workforce including pharmacy technicians. Consider wider local or regional implementation initiatives and networks and incorporate the federations who are often providing the PCN workforce. You should also take account of the growing PCN MDT (multi-disciplinary team) as part of your value proposition. The PCNs offer the opportunity for the Clinical Pharmacist t act as the ultimate change agent or champion within the integrated care system.

What should you do?

It goes without saying that Soar Beyond and the i2i Network are committed to supporting PCN Clinical Pharmacists and we have been successfully working with Industry to grow and evolve this through meaningful collaboration.

There are three key areas that may be of interest to Industry that are switched on to the need to engage with clinical pharmacists.

1)     The i2i Network is proud of how we have evolved our i2i training to incorporate a true insight to implementation offer, encompassing e-learning, live-streamed webinars, and driving the involvement of field teams supporting and delivering localised implementation pods and projects. A recently launched i2i implementation programme has successfully signed up 52 GP Pharmacists covering a 435K+ population nationally; all of whom will be utilising the same QI methodology and measuring the same implementation outcomes!

2)     Coming in 2021- An innovative and groundbreaking national leadership programme for senior pharmacists and clinical directors including buddying and mentoring with Industry partners. We are now seeking serious Big Pharma partners only who are committed to working innovatively and looking at true collaboration with future healthcare leaders. Coming in 2021

3)     Coming in 2021- SMART MDT optimising the whole new multidisciplinary workforce in LTC pathways through comprehensive capability mapping, resource-planning, and deployment using our current NHS SMART Pharmacist platform This is an exciting opportunity to look at redesigning services utilising the new roles and competencies with interested SMART sites or new organisations

  1. https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/network-contract-des-guidance-2020-21.pdf
  2. https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/SMR-Spec-Guidance-2020-21-FINAL-.pdf

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