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Walgreens: UK homecare sector could learn from the US

Pharmacy chain calls on UK to focus more on measuring the benefits of homecare

NCHA WalgreensHomecare companies in the UK need to utilise the country's centralised healthcare system to fully assess the benefits of homecare programmes, according to US pharmacy chain Walgreens.

Speaking at last week's National Clinical Homecare Association (NCHA) conference in Birmingham, Rick Miller, director of clinical services for Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy, said the UK was sitting on a “goldmine” of data that could help the determine the impact of homecare on adherence to medicines and improved outcomes.

“If the NHS has all this data, it should be able to have access to patient outcomes and be able to show the value of patients that are adherent to therapy versus those that are not,” he told PMLiVE.

To have real value, however, wider patient data needs to be taken into account, according to Miller, who noted that the use of homecare can cut other healthcare costs.

“If you look at the patient holistically you may be able to see trends and how you can impact the spend,” he said.

“We know when Walgreens implements one of its programmes, it will increase the amount of medicine a patients takes. So insurance companies will increase their drug spend but we will decrease their medical spend because patients go to the doctor less frequently, and go to the emergency room less frequently and their disease is not going to be progressing.”

The same thinking can be applied to the public-funded NHS, said Miller, backing comments from the NCHA's new CEO Dave Roberts who said engaged homecare should be part of the solution to reducing overall NHS spending.

Walgreens uses rigorous data analysis to track the success of its own programmes, including the use of the medication possession ratio (MPR) - a measurement of the amount of medicine has patient has remaining before a refill - to gauge adherence.

Miller presented data at the NCHA meeting that compared MPR levels in Walgreens' managed programmes, where Walgreens provides extra homecare support, to unmanaged programmes, where patients just receive their drugs through the mail.

Data demonstrated that MPR rates for hepatitis C patients on managed programmes were 96 per cent compared to 70 per cent for patients on unmanaged programmes. For multiple sclerosis patients, the ratio was 94 to 73 and for oncology patients it was 92 to 69.

According to Miller, this improved performance is down to effectively explaining to patients details of the medicine they are taking; going through potential side effects; and keeping tabs during consistent follow-ups.

He gave the example of an oncology drug that can lead to hand and foot syndrome, which can leave patients with very painful feet and hands. If a patient was unaware this was a manageable side effect of their treatment, they could end up at the hospital, incurring more healthcare cost than necessary.

This is something that UK homecare stakeholders can learn from the US, said Miller.

“The biggest success that we have been able to demonstrate is the value of managing the patient - clinically managing them in terms of ensuring they understand how to take their medications. But you have to have the infrastructure to report on that data,” he said.

“I think where the UK has an advantage is that you have that centralised data. Our data system in the US is very fragmented.”

Article by
Thomas Meek

23rd October 2013

From: Sales, Healthcare

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