Online pharmacy Pharmacy2U has said it will start to deliver the new medicine service (NMS) in the coming months, estimating that it could provide up to 3,000 telephone NMS appointments each month.
The distance-selling pharmacy does not currently provide advanced services, such as medicines use reviews (MURs) and the NMS, owing to difficulties with the establishment-based remuneration model and the logistics of obtaining patient consent.
Phil Day, superintendent pharmacist at Pharmacy2U, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that the cap of 400 MURs for each pharmacy combined with the requirement for individual approval from local NHS England teams to carry out MURs over the telephone, meant it is “not a great proposition” for Pharmacy2U to provide the service.
In recent months, however, Pharmacy2U has become more interested in providing NMS services and has been working with NHS England to develop a digital way to obtain patient consent for NMS, with the aim of making the process as easy to access as possible for its customers.
The NMS, introduced in October 2011, provides support for people with long-term conditions newly prescribed a medicine to help improve medicines adherence.
Patients will be identified by Pharmacy2U’s clinical team when a prescription containing a newly prescribed medicine is received. One of the pharmacist team will then call them to carry out the NMS interview.
Based on its current patient volumes, Pharmacy2U estimates that it could conduct up to 3,000 NMS telephone appointments per month, depending on uptake, with this number forecast to increase as its patient base grows.
Day added that Pharmacy2U plans to offer more services if the new community pharmacy contract, currently being negotiated, is more service-based.
Claire Anderson, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, commented: “We believe that face-to-face support in a community pharmacy is important, but also recognise that online services have their part to play … patients receiving prescriptions from online providers deserve the same level of support as they would do in a brick-and-mortar pharmacy.”
Leyla Hannbeck, director of pharmacy at the National Pharmacy Association, said that while some people found online pharmacies convenient, “many others value the face-to-face care available at local community pharmacies, and the range of health services they offer”.
“Digital technology will inevitably be a growing feature of health services, but people still want a healthcare professional close at hand, especially when they are at a moment of transition in their illness and their treatment,” she added.