20 January 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to how healthcare is delivered across the NHS. New partnerships with industry have sought to support consolidation, recovery and restoration and brought new opportunities within the changing NHS landscape.

The supply of drugs and devices is central in the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS. Growing this relationship will depend on much more than the transactional and added-value factors will be key to its future development.

The Pharmaceutical Industry has demonstrated its credentials and legitimacy as an NHS partner and going beyond the medicine can help it align further with NHS objectives. Improving the quality of therapies, enabling better patient outcomes and experience and supporting healthcare professionals are some of the added-value factors that will both sustain and enrich the partnership. Clinical Patient Support Programmes and Home Care Models are a vital fraction in the success equation.

Bringing the science closer to the patient

The rate of discovery, development and delivery of new therapeutic interventions is a constant in Pharma, however, the pharmaceutical ‘package’ it produces now needs to be delivered beyond the NHS’ doorstep. Connecting patients with the science behind the product is important. Doing this through supporting theme to engage with their therapy more closely and knowingly, and providing the means to monitor, evaluate and adhere to pharmaceutical regimen and its outcomes, is critical. This invites patients into a more direct relationship with the medicine (and by extension, those who produce it) and the healthcare professionals that provide their care and treatment.

PSPs can

  • Provide reassurance
  • Improve adherence
  • Support patient education and understanding
  • Empower patients to manage their disease and define their approach to their care rather than allowing the disease to define them and their life-choices.
  • Improve outcomes and quality of life
  • Support issues with side-effects and ensure reporting to MHRA providing reassurance around quality
  • Support patient satisfaction
  • Support relationships with healthcare professionals

Supporting Healthcare Systems and Healthcare Professionals

 It could be argued that there has been a long-held wish for a closer and less transactional relationship between the Pharmaceutical Industry and the NHS. Increasing waiting list times, unmet need, structural re-organisation and changing patient expectations are driving this forward and barriers that once existed are falling.

Combined with the NHS Long Term Plan objective to increase care out of hospital, providing more opportunities for patient care in their homes will help healthcare systems to support patients waiting for care, minimising deterioration in condition and to direct its workforce more efficiently to those patients with the greatest need or clinical urgency.

The advent Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and the supporting Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) brings fresh impetus to, and support for, enhancing multi-disciplinary roles at place-level. In turn, this will expand the range of proactive and personalised patient services that are based not only on treating those who are unwell but also tackle the needs of those with complex and long term needs.

PSPs aligned with PCN multi-disciplinary teams (MDT) can

  • Provide an essential platform for more wrap-around patient care and collaboration across the PCN MDT
  • Be a focal point for engagement between the patient and clinical navigators/care coordinators
  • Provide patient experience that can initiate non-clinical care opportunities that support quality of life, for example social prescribing
  • Provide patient initiated feedback that can inform future population health approaches and risk stratification
  • Provide care closer to home
  • Reduce appointments and attendance in healthcare settings
  • Support more efficient patient monitoring and maintenance post diagnosis
  • Support training for these roles to allow all clinicians to effectively operate at the top of their licence.

Scoping the opportunity

There is a wealth of PSPs across the industry; and, perhaps, often committed to as an add-on rather than a critical factor in the overall contribution that a drug or device can make to patients, healthcare professionals and healthcare systems.

As quality is redefined in the NHS, and outcome and value-based approaches become the norm, going beyond clinical efficacy will be critically more important. Over time this will become an increasingly more relevant factor in the purchase and supply of medicines.

The NHS is increasingly providing patient-centric, outcome-based healthcare models. It is designing and delivering services that involve multiple clinical and non-clinical disciplines, embrace the wider determinants of health, support life-cycle dynamics, operate across sectoral boundaries and sit within optimal care pathways. The Pharmaceutical Industry must engage with these dynamics and PSPs are a key-turner.

A conventional approach to PSPs has been to create a bespoke scheme for each drug or device. As the NHS moves to a more fluid approach in patient healthcare, the Industry has an opportunity to develop a common approach to developing supportive PSPs.

Across the NHS we see a growing need for it to manage more complex, chronic conditions. In addition, the burden of care for patients with long term and multiple morbidities is increasing. This will add to the challenges on healthcare systems as they attempt to address the pressures of care back-logs and unmet need.

Future PSPs should be modelled on supporting healthcare systems with these challenges and tackling common patient needs. In this way, a standard schematic can be adopted and operate across a number of therapeutic areas. This common build-approach for PSPs can be applied in both digital and face-to-face delivery and be the basis for supporting patients and healthcare professionals alike with their basic requirements of a PSP. This kind of approach goes beyond the medicine and product and provides a standardised means of

  • Patient and healthcare professional engagement
  • Patient and healthcare professional education and support
  • Data recording and reporting around quality markers
  • Outcome measurement in terms of patient outcomes and experience
  • Supporting clinical collaboration and advocacy
  • Contributing to resource allocation and effective workforce alignment
  • Demonstrating the value of NHS/Pharma partnership

For further discussions on how best to engage with a changing NHS in relation to PSP and Home Care, please contact