Did you know that since October 2011, 90% of community pharmacists in England have provided support to people with long-term conditions who have been newly-prescribed a medicine?
Indeed, since the beginning of service, until March 2017, over 4 million complete New Medicine Service (NMS) interventions had been provided to patients within community pharmacies.
This NHS England commissioned service is designed to help improve medicines adherence at a time when people are most likely to stop, and is currently focussed on specific patient groups and conditions.
Following the roll-out in 2014, the Government commissioned a study into NMS effectiveness. The report by Nottingham University recommended that, as the NMS delivered better patient outcomes at a reduced cost to the NHS, it should continue.
This is further supported by a recently published economic evaluation, which concludes that it improves patient’s adherence, translating to increased health gain at reduced cost.
During both the intervention and follow-up stages, the pharmacist will discuss with the patient how they are getting on with their new medicine. This involves assessing their adherence, identifying any problems, and providing information and support in person or over the phone.
I’ve provided several NMS interventions for patients who have been newly diagnosed with a long-term condition, such as diabetes, or had a progression in their condition which required new medicine. These patients are often vulnerable and overwhelmed by information provided from their GP or hospital doctor, and welcome having a more detailed discussion.
We can also explore side effects or any beliefs that might affect how they take their medicine. One woman, prescribed metformin for type 2 diabetes, was grateful to have my support for weight management, while a man prescribed an antihypertensive was reassured that his transient hypotension would pass, and starting his treatment in the evening really helped. This support can make the difference between continuing treatment or not.
The challenge is to integrate this service into patient care pathways and enable more community pharmacists and other healthcare professionals to understand the benefits. Six years on from the implementation of NMS, we believe it is time to extend this service to other patient groups, such as those with mental health conditions, where adherence is poor.
What could the role of industry be to support this excellent service? We have over 11,000 experts in medicines in the community currently providing an evidence-based patient support programme. I’ll leave you to consider how you could participate.
What is the New Medicine Service?
The NMS provides early patient support to maximise the benefits of their newly prescribed medicine and involves three stages:
1. Engagement, where the patient is recruited into the service
2. Intervention 7-14 days later
3. Follow-up 14-21 days later
Thank you to Michael Holden, Principle Associate, Pharmacy Complete for his contribution to this piece. Deborah Evans is Managing Director of Pharmacy Complete, a specialist consultancy and training company enabling a healthier future for pharmacy. Go to pharmacycomplete.org