Adding real value to patients through patient support programmes

Adam Crampsie, head of clinical operations and speciality service design at Celesio UK, explains how we are using patient support programmes to deliver better patient outcomes and enhance the role of community pharmacy.

Clinically effective, flexible support programmes which focus on meeting individual patient needs might be a lofty goal, but it’s one which is becoming more attainable as we continue to harness the specialist knowledge and expertise of pharmacists.

According to the Aston Medication Adherence Study, up to 50 percent of medications prescribed in England for long-term conditions are not taken as recommended. As well as putting patients’ lives at risk, The Department of Health estimates the cost of unused or unwanted medicines in the NHS is £100 million annually. Non-adherence is usually because patients are wary of potential side-effects or that they have a poor understanding of how to take their medications.

We believe that our network of pharmacists can help to meet this challenge. The way forward is in developing patient support programmes that are personalised to meet the needs of individuals, aimed at improving knowledge of conditions and helping people to remember when, why and how to take medication. Using our expertise as pharmacists, we can provide both remote and face-to-face patient monitoring which is solely targeted at improving adherence and enhancing patient outcomes.

Our programmes connect patients with pharmacists who are ideally placed to answer any questions that the patient may have about their medicines. This maximises the resulting levels of patient understanding and adherence which in turn achieves better outcomes for both patients and the NHS. Complex conditions with specialist medication regimes, such as oncology, rheumatology and neurology, can especially benefit from this type of pharmacist-led programme focussing on behavioural interventions and coaching.

ADAM (Alcohol Dependency and Adherence to Medications) is a clinical trial which we launched alongside King’s College London. ADAM is helping us understand which form of intervention works best to increase adherence to Acamprosate (the most common first line medication for alcohol dependency). The trial is currently a year into the three year trial period and is designed to guide future clinical practice by determining what approach is most effective for the patient.

In another example, a recent patient support programme developed by Celesio UK and manufacturer MSD showed that pharmacist intervention improved adherence to diabetes medication by up to 61 percent. The LloydsPharmacy pharmacist-led Clinical Contact Centre contacted patients through telephone and SMS text messages over a six month period. The aim was to improve patients’ knowledge of how and when to take their medication, explain why the medication was beneficial and dispel any myths, address any of their concerns and to improve overall adherence and persistence to their prescribed regime as intended by their GP.

The improved rate of adherence that a patient support programme provides has the potential for life-saving ramifications. These programmes enable pharmacists to focus on specific areas where personal intervention can really make a notable difference to the patient’s understanding, better manage their health and improve adherence to medication prescribed by their GP.

This dramatically improves mortality and medical complications as well as improving quality of life. After all, isn’t that our objective?