As the health service grapples with the need to provide quality care while containing spiralling patient care costs (something all stakeholders will need to do for decades to come), the ability to manage care in a holistic, safe and cost effective way is a priority for commissioners.
Choosing the best healthcare partner to deliver these often complex and detailed healthcare requirements is high on the agenda for many commissioners and with the recent changes to NHS commissioning and the publication of the Homecare Medicines Review guidelines, this task has become even more important to get right first time round.
So what can you do to ensure the right partnerships are formed that best meet your individual service objective needs?
First of all, the healthcare partner should offer a broad and integrated range of services such as medicines distribution/logistics, clinical homecare, medicines support, dispensing services, medicine preparation and clinical trial support. Not only does provision of these cohesive services avoid the need for other external partners and contracts, but it also creates the flexibility to add-on future services as end-to-end patient healthcare needs develop and expand.
In addition, this fully integrated approach has a greater potential to lead to service efficiencies, flexible service delivery and improved patient care.
As we have seen, the move towards clinical care closer to home and the benefits to patients from more convenient care delivered in the comfort of their own homes, workplaces or in a local clinical service centre is leading to the evolution of innovative healthcare service developments. Make sure your healthcare partner is at the forefront of these technological and service delivery innovations and that it can not only provide patients with holistic care but also offer additional Patient Care Value (PCV) such as health promotion advice, disease-management tools and multiple contact points to clinical care advice services.
The healthcare partner must help patients make better use of the medicines and therapies they are prescribed and by doing so, the NHS can be supported to deliver the demands of the Government's QIPP (Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention) agenda:
Most importantly, a partner should be able to demonstrate a strong track record of patient-centric care that supports patients throughout their care journey. The ability for patients to access medicines and receive the right professional care closer to home reduces trips to the hospital, unplanned re-admissions and minimises the potential for exposure to hospital-based infections.
Patient welfare and confidentiality should also be at the top of the list when specialist healthcare services such as HIV, oncology and fertility are required. A flexible service which fits in with patient lifestyles and a friendly, supportive and experienced professional healthcare team are essential for patients with an often complex set of healthcare needs.
The provision of facilities and locations to support patients nationally and regionally, combined with a collaborative approach to develop local solutions, such as collection services via local pharmacy networks, will also help providers to deliver the criteria set out in the NHS Outcomes Framework.
An aspect which is perhaps given less weight is the existence of shared values and complementary multi-disciplinary expertise between stakeholder organisations. In my opinion, evidence of this is critical to engender mutual trust and respect between both organisations, as no doubt the ability for co-operative working will be tested under the current challenging and changing healthcare environment.
Ultimately, the true measure of success will be the strength of the relationship between the healthcare provider and partner as they work together in the pursuit of mutual goals to deliver the best possible care for their patients.
With new healthcare products increasing rapidly, clinical care closer to home is the optimum channel for delivering these and other added value services which support NHS stakeholders, patients and pharmaceutical companies. By choosing a healthcare partner with a broad range of services that deliver measurable PCV and healthcare outcomes across the patient pathway, the commissioner will have created firm foundations on which to develop sophisticated healthcare provision to meet increasingly complex patient healthcare needs and expectations.