In the recently published economic evaluation of the New Medicine Service (NMS) the authors conclude that the service improves patient’s adherence with their treatment which translates into increased health gain at reduced overall cost. So a no brainer for the NHS commissioners, patient care pathways and other healthcare providers across primary and secondary care then?
The challenge remains on how to integrate this service into patient care pathways and get other HCPs to understand the benefits it brings and respect its outcomes. Indeed some community pharmacists have yet to fully embrace the service and embed it in daily practice and understand how it fits with Medicines Use Reviews (MURs), i.e. the provision of Pharmaceutical Care.
Pharmaceutical Care is defined by the Pharmaceutical Care Network Europe (PCNE) as “the pharmacist’s contribution to the care of individuals in order to optimise medicines use and improve health outcomes”. I would go further and say that it is pharmacy’s contribution as the broader pharmacy team of Pharmacy Technicians, Dispensing Assistants, Health Champions and Healthcare Assistants all contribute to patient outcomes.
There is also a challenge for some patients as this excellent service is not available to all who may benefit from it, particularly some vulnerable groups such as those on treatment for mental health conditions where adherence is known to be poor.
Thought to ponder on – should NHS England consider a contract that appropriately incentivises and rewards the provision of Pharmaceutical Care rather than a silo service approach of medicines supply, NMS and MURs? Something that a distance selling pharmacy may struggle to provide but an opportunity for a community pharmacy to truly differentiate, integrate, and sustain a healthier future?