Focus on the present to make the most impact

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I’ve written before about how difficult it can be for people working in Pharma, MedTech and Devices to cut through the noise and laser in on how they can collaborate with the NHS. It’s an ever-changing picture and the industry needs to focus in on what’s happening right now.

As of April 2022, that’s the practical application of NHS England guidance around the Primary Care Network as seen here.

I’m going to focus on CVD (Cardiovascular Disease), where the supplementary guidance was published on 31st March 2022.

Between 1st October 2021 and 31st March 2022, they have been case finding hypertension as part of the Investment and Impact Fund, and this month, they're adding familial hypercholesterolemia, atrial fibrillation and heart failure to the list of indicators, as detailed in accompanying graphic, and in the supplementary guidance.

Don’t relax – go and convince them

Because this is part of the Investment and Impact Fund, Primary Care Networks and their Member General Practices will weigh up which of the indicators they want to pursue. Just because it's in there doesn't mean it's a given, the Investment and Impact fund is optional. So a lot of thinking goes into the network’s priorities in establishing what they can and can’t pursue.

It's not safe for the industry to sit back and think, ‘It’s in the Investment and Impact Fund, that means I’m guaranteed to get a return.’ You have still got to go and position yourself in terms of how you can help, what support you can offer and what problem you will solve in working with them.

So if the networks pick these up they will case find the patients as they're doing with hypertension right now. But it's not a given – it takes a bit of work.

Providing the right information prevents suboptimal treatment

I have a couple of examples from my current work with the pharmaceutical industry, where I have been retained each month to support teams to better access and position their value-added projects against the problem they solve for the NHS.

The first one focuses on heart failure. They have understood last year in October that the Primary Care Networks were being asked to prepare to case find heart failure patients. And there's a worry that if the disease registers are not fully optimised to a point where the Practices have no suboptimal treatment, and they are maximising the patient outcome, there's a risk that they add new patients to disease registers that are not optimal. What they then do is drive workload. Suboptimal treatment will often drive patients into the practices or lead to referral into hospital, or heaven forbid, they end up with non-elective admissions into hospital.

So there’s been a big focus on cleansing the coding within clinical systems, reviewing all the patients, making sure there’s no suboptimal treatment, making sure they’re all on the right treatment and the right doses. To make that happen, Hospital, Primary Care Networks/General Practice and Community Services have closely collaborated. That work was targeted to be completed by April and it is on track, as the industry partner has provided a team of people to support the work, which was welcomed by the NHS.

Industry partners assisting with upskilling

As new patients are added, there will be retraining, education and upskilling for Primary Care Networks and General Practice Teams – delivered by the industry partner and Hospital. This support often sees the Practices and PCNs then working with a hospital (Integrated Care), which again means that as we add patients to disease registers they are optimally treated - there's no risk of suboptimal treatment and slipping back to the old ways.

So it’s a great return for the NHS, a great return for the practices, a great return for the network and a great return for the patients. And of course, the industry partner benefits because they’re a big part of the solution.

Helping keep the workload down

The second example is a Primary Care Network-based project, working with a Hospital across different specialties. We’ve got four consultants working with General Practice doing case note reviews of the patients. This is on the basis that they’re finding that around 80% of the patients arriving in the secondary care outpatient department are there because they have been suboptimally treated.

Treatment is then updated, and the GP Practice gets an optimised patient with a new care plan back, but all the work has already been completed.

So if we did more training, education and upskilling and delivered the optimal treatment, we'd avoid an awful lot of referrals and General Practice (and the Hospital) would avoid an awful lot of workload. Again – a practical, live example of an industry partner I have been retained to support with the project and the delivery.

Scott McKenzie helps pharmaceutical, medical technology and device firms increase revenue by getting their products and services in front of the right NHS decision makers. If you want to get your products fully embedded into treatment pathways we can help you. We’ve doubled revenue for our clients and can share these processes with you too.