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Too much reflection may be counter-productive


Too much reflection may be counter-productive

Revalidation and IT are areas that, on reflection, require our correspondent’s attention…



Like everyone else whose GPhC registration is due for renewal on October 31, I have received the email reminding me I need to submit six revalidation records including a peer discussion and a reflective account by that date.

This isn’t a voluntary thing – it is a requirement to remain on the register and I’ve known about it for the past 12 months, yet I always find it irksome.

It’s not that I don’t do a reasonable amount of CPD - managing the requirements of the pharmacy quality scheme just about sorts that out - or that I don’t keep a record of what I do, it is the fact that it is yet more paperwork to plough through, and that I do not have any choice – well, not at the moment.

And it is also the frustration of having to justify my professional existence to a nameless bureaucrat in a distant organisation that I struggle to identify with.

Basically, I suppose, I don’t like having to do as I am told especially when, deep down, I know what is being asked of me is perfectly reasonable and no less than I would expect from an individual in any other area of professional practice. Irrational, isn’t it?

This year’s revalidation requirement includes, for the first time, a peer discussion and a reflective account. Since the PSNC came up with rather more than many contractors anticipated in its five-year community pharmacy contract framework deal, I’ve been doing a fair bit of discussing and reflecting with my peers.

On reflection though, a fair proportion of it is pretty unprintable and I don’t think conforms to the GPhC’s more lofty expectations.

Reflection, according to the Health and Care Professions Council, is the thought process where individuals consider their experiences to gain insights about their whole practice.

Reflection supports individuals to continually improve the way they work or the quality of care they give to people. It should be a familiar, continuous and routine part of the work of health and care professionals.

Most of my reflection has been around the nuts and bolts of keeping the pharmacy going as a viable business. Very little thought has been given in recent months to the quality of care I give to people.

Survival comes first, but the pharmacy is still open every day, and local people are being cared for, which is better than no care at all. It is a sorry state of affairs when this is your yardstick!

My learning outcome from this sort of reflection is that, firstly, desperate times stimulate creative thinking and, secondly, they can lead to an acceptance of risk that in more stable times would not be tolerated.

The creative thinking is fine since it leads to a more efficiently run business, although some of my bright ideas have the potential to be expensive in the short term (but of course there will be longer term benefits, I hope).

Risk, especially in a patient context, also has the potential to be expensive, but in a different sort of way. Something to reflect on further…


Making the technology work

I have decided I need a teenager, one of those who spends most of their time fiddling with their mobile phone but who, when pressed, will answer your pleas for help and resolve those IT niggles that take normal people hours to resolve in a few deft keystrokes.

Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate the labour saving and customer benefits that good IT applications can bring, but the time spent sorting out ‘issues’ (as the help desk people politely term them) can be mindboggling. We had a classic example recently when I decided we would upgrade our wifi.

The new hub came with a new password which was duly entered in where required. All seemed to be going remarkably smoothly until a member of staff came out of the consultation room and told me that Alexa wasn’t working.

In a rush of blood to the head I had bought an Echo Dot from Amazon when the NHS announced that it had done a deal with Amazon to make information from the NHS website available through Alexa.

Although at first I considered the whole set-up a bit gimmicky, and said as much, I have had to eat my words because it has proved surprisingly popular with both customers and staff.

Several times I have seen one of the girls taking a customer into the consultation room to ‘ask Alexa’ about something that they were not sure about or where additional confirmation about advice given was required.

I am not quite surplus to requirements yet, but have been forced to reflect (that word again) that there are times when the staff read the warning signs and recognise that they might get more help from ‘the woman’ than they will from me.

And now she had been struck dumb! If you know what you are doing I am sure it is relatively easy to re-programme the thing, but I don’t, and neither does anyone else. Having attempted to Google the answer and fiddling around for half an hour, I decided I had better things to do with my time, so Alexa is currently silenced until I can get around to finding a teenager.

Sticking with technology, I was intrigued to read that a new PMR system, Titan, is now on the market. I remember the company’s stand at the Pharmacy Show last year caught my eye.

That it claims to be the first new entrant into the market for 15 years says quite a lot about the difficulty of interfacing with the NHS and the limited commercial opportunity for pharmacy specific applications in the restricted market that is the community pharmacy sector.

I am interested. I’ll need some explanation of how much of the system is cloud-based and how responsive it is, and how much I am going to need to invest in hardware.

I will need to see how the ‘paperless workflow system’ it offers stacks up, and will have questions around how my current PMR and purchasing data can be transferred.

Above all I will want to know how idiot proof the system is and what sort of support I can expect to get. What’s their teenager like? Oh, and that small matter of cost.




Caption:  Hiraman (iStock)


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