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.
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
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!
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:
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.
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.
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
"We commissioned SMART for our pharmacy workforce in March 2020 recognising that we had ambitious plans to rapidly expand the workforce in the next two years and that we needed a structured framework to ensure standardised delivery of the clinical pharmacist and technician role across our 6 PCNs.
The support we commissioned, including 4D Accelerator sessions with our senior pharmacists, ensured a shared vision and agreed set of competencies as well as a delivery plan for the service. This enabled us to use the SMART platform to quickly create a map of baseline competencies and capabilities which highlighted and identified training and development needs. We now have a focused development plan and set of agreed service milestones, KPIs including DES deliverables like SMRs; best of all, we have visibility of all of these to share with our PCNs. Having expanded our team rapidly to already having 25 clinical pharmacists and 6 technicians, SMART has been vital in providing assurance to the PCNs about the quality of the pharmacy workforce and has given us all clarity of service deliverables and priorities. Because Soar Beyond also has the i2i Network, we have been delighted that we are now addressing one of our key development needs around managing frail older patients by implementing a federation-wide quality improvement (QI) initiative including training, upskilling and systematic review and management.
I feel the structure of the SMART platform and the wrap-around support of the Soar Beyond team has been instrumental in helping us to rapidly standardise and provide a quality service and would recommend this for services- both large and small."
Juliet Fletcher -Senior Meds Optimisation Pharmacist and Senior Lead Pharmacist for Sunderland GP Alliance
“We chose Soar Beyond to help us develop and implement our Pharmacy Activation Strategy because of their heritage and expertise in primary care pharmacy; they really understand the various pharmacy sectors and their relative importance for our portfolio of products. Not only have they helped us to map the entire patient journey and potential interventions, but they have supported us to identify the service and workforce development opportunities so that we have a clear short, medium, and long-term vision and matching value offer that will drive market access of our brands.”
Marketing Director, Top 10 Global Pharmaceutical Company
"Soar Beyond’s QI (Quality Improvement) pods are an innovative, interactive way of engaging an interested cohort of customers, galvanising their desire to make QI change and providing them with the structure and support to do this well. Through an expression of interest process, Soar Beyond has been facilitating these QI pods to help equip the frailty champions to drive the QI in their practices. We now have developed a frailty QI community through the pods which is really helping us to build relationships with these GP Clinical Pharmacists for us as a company and supporting patient and process QI implementation. Having the QI pods as a value offer to drive implementation has been a key part of our delivery and implementation strategy."
Hannah Harding, Senior Scientific Affairs Manager, Nutricia.
"Novo Nordisk has been working with Soar Beyond since 2016 to support NHS organisations, to optimise their pathways and clinical services, using the Soar Beyond proprietary 4D™ methodology in facilitated stakeholder meetings. This started with Soar Beyond’s consultancy and expertise in delivering 4D™ change programmes. Due to the success of this approach, we have now rolled out an intensive upskilling programme for our field based market access team, whereby they become accredited to apply the 4D™ methodology to support service optimisation. I’ve enjoyed the collaborative approach with Soar Beyond to create market access solutions to meet both our business and NHS customer needs"
Hasseena Winter, National Market Access Manager
"Having worked with Soar Beyond on a number of training and NHS partnering projects at different companies, I have found them to be very responsive to our needs and to ensure the subject matter is both relevant and informative. As they work at the cutting edge with the NHS directly, the additional offerings around tool kits to support healthcare professionals are forward thinking and absolutely in line with the NHS agenda. For example, the i2i toolkit which they have developed for our disease area focus has attracted huge interest from medicines management and primary care network pharmacists. This provides a platform on which we can act as peer level partners in the improved management of patients whilst provide us with commercial opportunities in line with this agenda. I would wholeheartedly recommend working with Shailen and his team."
Colin Smith, Head of Field Sales, Alliance Pharma