Interview and article by Christine Clark
Two programmes comprising training materials and back-up resources, have been essential for the development of effective practice pharmacy services that deliver meaningful benefits in primary care, according to Shailen Rao, managing director of Soar Beyond
‘Insight to implementation’ (i2i) is the name of a package of training programmes and back up materials, all of which are designed to provide practice pharmacists with the knowledge (or insight) and a suite of implementation resources, such as templates and standard letters to enable them to deliver services effectively. The modules of i2i are mainly focused on therapy areas such as diabetes, respiratory, cardiology and they utilise a blend of face-to-face and online teaching. Since the start of the covid-19 pandemic, much of the educational material has been moved online.
Typically, pharmacists who complete such modules say “I could now go into practice an implement this next week”, says Mr Rao.
Mr Rao says the company is passionate about the implementation element of the training. ”If we give you great content, from the learning point of view, but you do nothing with it we will have wasted our time”, he explains.
In the early days Mr Rao’s company employed pharmacists and placed them in GP practices but as the roles have matured practices have increasingly employed their own pharmacists. This meant that there was a need for a system to help with service development, professional development for the pharmacists and provision of senior pharmacist support to enable the practice pharmacists to function effectively. Against this background, the SMART programme was developed. SMART stands for Setup and Mobilisation, Accelerate, Resources and Tools.
“SMART puts the resource on rails and provides a clear plan for what a PCN (Primary Care Network) will get”, says Mr Rao.
Without a system such as SMART it is possible for the pharmacy service to develop chaotically or not at all. Sometimes pharmacists and GPs struggle to work out how to use the pharmacist most effectively through a process of trial and error and there is a danger that the pharmacy service may be perceived as having nothing important offer, he explains. Moreover, as funding increases over time it is important to be able to support PCNs to “think at scale” and plan for the growth and development of the pharmacy service in line with the PCN’s growth. ‘Set-up and mobilisation’ describes the planning that is undertaken at the beginning, and ‘accelerate’ describes all the tools and processes, including those needed to measure the pharmacists’ activity. ‘Resources and tools’ – the R and T – include templates, searches and a variety of other back-up materials to enable the service to operate efficiently.