Since I started my career in medicines optimisation some 25 years ago, both working in the NHS and then with the NHS, there has never been a more exciting time for transforming and integrating the potential of pharmacists within the medicines and patient pathway.
Why? The Integration of Pharmacy & Medicines Optimisation (IPMO) is a policy and initiative grounded in common-sense and a long-overdue emphasis on medicines as the core of most LTCs and the need to take an integrated and system-wide approach to managing this.
Pharmacists are already the third largest workforce in the NHS and by 2024, there will be an army of 7,000 PCN Clinical Pharmacists alone (estimated at about 3,500 currently) and all newly qualified pharmacists will be prescribers. Personally, I feel the most important letters are the MO- the medicines-related optimisation opportunities and preventing the clinical inertia and overwhelm.
In a cruel twist of fate, this long-awaited next stage (following the IPMO pilots of 2018), has come at the worst time with the pandemic and entire healthcare system focussed on the vaccination mobilisation programme and recovery of the associated healthcare complications. This means that the current voluntary “lead” role is unlikely to have the capacity, dedication, accountability and bandwidth to drive and deliver this- even if they do have the skills and vision to do so. This causes a back-to-front process- like buttering your bread BEFORE you put it in the toaster. It seems somewhat perilous to me that the current voluntary lead role will have to galvanise the local stakeholders and develop an outline costed delivery plan, including creation of new ICS Chief Pharmacist role. Surely the ICS Chief Pharmacist role needed to come first in order to develop and own the ICS level IPMO strategy and then be accountable for the delivery plan? It is what it is, as they say, but it needs to be recognised that this flaw in the IPMO formulation and implementation poses a potential and serious threat to its success.
As Keith Ridge, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer says in the foreword to the guidance document from September 2020, following COVID, “This guidance is about how to build on this refreshing teamwork more systematically to help improve and transform pharmacy and medicines optimisation.” Let’s hope sectors across pharmacy can energise themselves to think differently and across the patient pathway to fulfil this possibility and that we are not left with the stale loaves of the past.
If you are a pharma or devices company and haven’t yet explored or planned your engagement with target pharmacists, Soar Beyond has the expertise to help you develop your Pharmacy Activation Strategy for 2022 and beyond. Having a cohesive and coherent medicines optimisation strategy and value offer to support pharmacy pathway integration will be vital to Pharma industry success and it will be important for you to know which way your bread is buttered!
"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