A new prescription for primary care brands

Ross MacPhee, Business Development Manager at CHASE examines the growing significance of PCN clinical pharmacists and CHASE’s innovative solution to engage with them effectively.

Top Takeaways

1 PCN clinical pharmacists are independent prescribers who play a key role in deciding how patients are treated, particularly those with chronic conditions.
2 There are 3,700 PCN clinical pharmacists across the UK now, almost doubling to 7,000 by 2023/24.
3 CHASE’s new Pharmacist Partnership Managers are experienced pharmacists who create competitive advantage by engaging credibly with a commercial remit.
4 Contact Ross MacPhee about this innovative role to move your brand forward.

New commercial roles emerging to engage the shifting NHS

Over the past 18 months, pharmaceutical teams have been dealt some of the most significant challenges the industry has ever seen. Among the trickiest to address are:

  • New NHS structures and customers: With the NHS ICS structure defined and all English GP practices now part of a PCN, key decision makers are changing
  • Patient dynamism: As a consequence of the pandemic patients are not being seen or reviewed as usual, so initiation of new medicines is limited
  • Access denied: COVID-19 has also meant HCPs have been under significant time pressure and are now harder to reach than ever.

As a result, to date many products have lost almost two years of sales growth opportunity and these challenges show no signs of abating.

Proactive pharma companies are reviewing their internal structures with a view to creating new roles to mirror the changing infrastructure and decision making across the NHS. Here we focus on one of the key roles emerging in primary care and how an innovative role from CHASE is creating competitive advantage for proactive primary care brand teams.

PCN clinical pharmacists are growing in significance

PCN clinical pharmacists are one of the fastest growing groups of decision makers and independent prescribers within primary care. Their staff numbers are set to double from currently 3,700 to 7,000 by 2023/24. It is a role envisioned through NHS policy formation, driven by the Network Contract Directed Enhanced Services (DES) and funded by the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS).

These PCN clinical pharmacists, sometimes also referred to as Practice-based Clinical Pharmacists, are concerned with population health within the PCN and are responsible for developing clinical skills and expertise to deliver the DES. Their focus is also on process review and standardisation to create efficiency; risk-stratifying patients to manage practice workload; working with the Clinical Director to deliver pathways; integrating with the wider healthcare team outside of the PCN and to act as the PCN prescribing lead. Ultimately, they are focused on quality and safety; helping to keep patients out of hospital for longer and reducing GP workload.

Their role is pivotal in optimising medicines for patients and tackling overprescribing as set out in a landmark review published in September 2021 by Dr Keith Ridge, the NHS’ Chief Pharmaceutical Officer.

PCN clinical pharmacists are key prescribers

Structured Medication Reviews are one of the PCN clinical pharmacists’ key tasks, designed to address problematic polypharmacy in the NHS, reduce avoidable hospitalisations, and deliver better value from medicines spending. Even before SMRs became mandatory for PCNs and during the peak of the pandemic in 2020, data published by NHS Digital shows that 12,222 structured medication reviews were recorded as having been conducted by pharmacists between April and September 2020. SMRs became mandatory for PCNs as of October 2020; as such this figure will undoubtedly be significantly higher now.

PCN clinical pharmacists are therefore making an increasing number of prescribing decisions for patients with chronic conditions. If your product is extensively used in primary care, it’s highly likely you need to be engaging with this customer group and aligning to their and the PCN’s needs. So how can pharma engage this growing customer group effectively?

Creating competitive advantage

CHASE Pharmacist Partnership Managers are experienced pharmacists placed into promotional roles to engage their peers in the NHS more effectively through credibility, demonstrable understanding of the NHS and a common understanding of the challenges faced by pharmacists. From this advantageous position they are well placed to support the adoption of products they are responsible for. As many PCN Clinical Pharmacists are new to their roles, there is also a significant opportunity to develop true partnership by offering tailored medicine as well as therapy and patient management support.

CHASE has deployed more than 30 experienced pharmacists in the last three years. Some of the benefits that can be gained from deploying CHASE’s Pharmacist Partnership Managers include:

  • Improving access and engagement with NHS customers
  • Increasing formulary implementation and pull-through in primary care
  • Positively influencing the reduction of patient backlog and increasing patient dynamism
  • Creating competitive differentiation and building lasting partnerships
  • Developing better NHS insights and greater alignment with its priorities; creating a halo effect for your organisation.

Case study

CHASE recently deployed six Pharmacy Partnership Managers (PPMs) for a pharmaceutical primary care brand following a successful initial pilot. The Pharmacy Partnership Managers benefitted the brand by:

  • Increasing formulary positioning within primary care
  • Engaging credibly and effectively with the customer group
  • Positioning the brand effectively towards the priorities of the PCN Clinical Pharmacist
  • Driving implementation of patient pathway through coordination between practice and community pharmacy (NMS/DMS)
  • Developing the organisation’s understanding of the evolving NHS

CHASE’s client said in response: “We’re delighted with our decision to take a different approach. CHASE’s Pharmacy Partnership Managers have achieved real influence for our brand, but also importantly brought real insight as to the influence of Practice-based Pharmacists. It’s also reassuring to know how commercial the individuals CHASE provided are, in addition to their clinical background.”

Do you want your brand to engage more effectively with PCN Clinical Pharmacists and other new roles across the NHS? Contact Ross MacPhee to discuss how CHASE can help you.

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