New research conducted by the Community Pharmacy Future group and academics from the University of East Anglia has shown how community pharmacy can support patients with long-term conditions (LTCs) to improve their quality of life and provide cost effective solutions for the NHS.

In the second phase of its work, the group has successfully delivered a new Pharmacy Care Plan (PCP) service to a large cohort of patients in West Yorkshire.  The service used validated clinical tools to support patients who have multiple LTCs, including the Patient Activation Measure, which assesses the knowledge, skill and confidence a person has in managing their own health and health care. Patients are scored at different activation levels and supported to improve their level of activation. Research suggests that by moving from the lowest activation level to the highest, healthcare costs can be reduced by up to 21%.

Over a 12-month period, 38 community pharmacies, including independent and supermarket pharmacies, supported 378 patients through the PCP service. The evaluation showed that overall statistically significant increases in levels of patient activation, self-reported adherence to their medication, and self-reported quality of life were achieved.  The health economic analysis results suggest that the service can be considered to be cost effective.

The group maintains that the study and its results indicate that this new model of care, which has a person-centred approach at its heart, empowers patients to manage their own condition, and supports the NHS self-care agenda. The PCP service focuses on interventions that community pharmacists can deliver using regular discussions with patients when they are collecting prescribed medication. These include tailored coaching, signposting, and self-management guidance aimed at increasing patients’ levels of activation.

The group also says the results suggest that for those included in the evaluation, enrolment on the PCP service was associated with an improvement over 12 months in key clinical and process metrics, and would be cost-effective from an NHS perspective.

Commenting on behalf of the group, Clare Kerr, head of healthcare policy and strategy for Celesio UK said: “The design, delivery and evaluation of this service has grown the ever-increasing evidence base for the value of community pharmacy, which was one of the key goals for this project.  Either the full-service package, or elements of it, can easily be integrated into wider primary care models, supporting patients with multiple long-term conditions to become more activated and better able to self-care, improving their potential outcomes and reducing the cost of their care to the system”.

Jane Devenish, NHS standards and services pharmacist at Well, added: “With the NHS under unprecedented pressure to transform, Community Pharmacy Care Plans must become part of the integrated package of care commissioned by the NHS so that each patient gets appropriate support to reach their health goals”.

The Community Pharmacy Future group is made up of Boots UK, LloydsPharmacy, Rowlands Pharmacy and Well Pharmacy and was set up in 2011. 

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