The 29th Health Service Research and Pharmacy Practice (HSRPP) Conference returned as a face-to-face event in Bradford, West Yorkshire, on 16–18 April 2023.
This year’s theme was ‘Partnerships in Healthcare: Advancing Sustainable Medicines Optimisation’, which welcomed research addressing the delivery of sustainable medicine optimisation, with the focus around the four principles of medicines optimisation and an additional strand focusing on sustainable solutions. This included understanding the patient experience, the evidence-based choice of medicines, ensuring medicines use is as safe as possible, making medicines optimisation part of routine practice and sustainable healthcare solutions for the modern age.
The conference aimed to share knowledge grounded in high-level research and professional practice, but focus was also given to professional development, skills enhancement and mindfulness for the soul. There were clear strands of research that seemed to be the ‘in’ area of focus, with burning research questions and agendas, examples of which are presented below.
Polypharmacy and deprescribing are important areas of research for pharmacy professionals. Work presented at the conference ranged from exploring patients’ and clinicians’ views on deprescribing to developing intervention tools to equip teams to actively deprescribe in hospital (CHARMER), general practice (DEPPLOY), or long-term care (DEFERAL) settings. Researchers agreed that prescribing is a complex intervention, but pharmacists in all sectors can contribute greatly to this activity and should be confident in doing so.
Digital systems, technology and health
Researchers from Ireland presented work that demonstrated the electronic transfer of prescriptions to pharmacies improved GP workflow and enhanced GP–pharmacist communication. Unintended consequences of new healthcare technologies were also explored, with discussions highlighting the risk of over-reliance on technology, loss of the human element to healthcare, effects on equity, and concerns over lack of standardised governance. In addition, examples of where digital solutions had not worked as intended, such as electronic health record allergy alerts during prescribing being overridden, were discussed.
Empowering people in their care
Study outputs reported by researchers aimed to support patients in managing their medicines and focused on self-management tools for older patients (RESI-med) or for older patients and their carers. Other presentations focused more on service provision, developing tools to support dispensing and counselling of patients with visual impairments, or reviewing local hospital policies for self-administration of insulin.
Advancing pharmacists’ roles
The era of diversity is firmly with us in the pharmacy profession, with the recognition that the traditional boundaries of what the pharmacist can do in their role is no longer valid. Researchers explored how pharmacists contributed to general practice in both the UK and Ireland, from both GP and pharmacist perspectives. The role of pharmacy teams in empowering patients with visual and hearing impairments in engaging with community pharmacy services and the information provided by pharmacy professionals for dementia medication were also topics of interest.
Safe use of medicines
The appropriate and safe use of medicines was explored in studies examining the switching of medicines (e.g. solid to liquid formulation). Direct oral anticoagulants featured in some studies linked to a specific clinical condition or reimbursement strategies in Ireland. Digital tools also supported patient adherence to prescribed medicines, with the design of SPUR (social, psychological, usage, and rational), a predictive diagnostic tool.
Pharmacists’ role in wellbeing
With the pressures of modern society leading to higher levels of mental health conditions, it was pleasing to see studies advising students of the support resources available for mental health provision. An investigation of community pharmacists’ role in Nigeria’s suicide prevention highlighted their existing role and potential. Researchers from Saudi Arabia shared their work on developing recommendations for physical activity and sleep duration for adults, adolescents and young children.
A cross-cutting theme, which was referred to in many research studies, was sustainability and a supplementary panel session discussed sustainable solutions for a modern age as applied to the pharmacy profession. Conversations focused on: avoiding pharmaceutical waste, influencing the pharmaceutical industry to focus on sustainability, how to embed sustainability into the whole healthcare system, mindful prescribing, re-use of medicines, having sustainability conversations with our patients, and empowering patients to better manage their medicines. The conversations were captured in creative images available on the Pharmacy Declares website.
Further information, including the published abstracts presented at this conference, is available in this International Journal of Pharmacy Practice supplement. A special thank you goes to our benevolent sponsors, Imaan Healthcare and Luto, which provided bursaries to facilitate attendance.
HSRPP 2024 will be hosted by University College Cork (UCC). UCC will deliver a conference bourgeoning with high calibre research and innovations in pharmacy practice, couched in Irish hospitality and a céilí dance or two. More information can be found on the conference website.
Liz Breen, professor of health service operations, University of Bradford School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences
Kristina Medlinskiene, associate professor in pharmacy practice, University of Bradford School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences and advanced clinical pharmacist (education and training), Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Justine Tomlinson, assistant professor in medical education, University of Bradford School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences
Peter Gardner, professor of healthcare quality and safety, University of Bradford School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences