CPS Project Blog Scanner Pilot

Lee Boag

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Following our Minor Ailment Service (MAS) study we are taking a more in depth look at the perceived value of all community pharmacy services by both staff and patients. By exploring these experiences we can demonstrate the efforts and commitments of those working in our community pharmacies to provide the safest, most patient focussed frontline service. From the MAS study, it was clear to us that patients have a preference for accessing their community pharmacies for care with almost 2 out of 3 patients saying that an ‘existing relationship with pharmacy staff’ was a reason for their selection of healthcare provider. Further interviews with patients who had accessed MAS also revealed that this positive relationship with staff had created individual experiences of trust, rapport and value of the service. This led us to our current project where we are further investigating this relationship to help us more fully understand and explain the underlying processes that foster this rapport.

Project Blog Scanner Pilot QuoteWith our community pharmacy staff often providing the first point contact for the NHS, driven by  services such as MAS and the Pharmacy First scheme, pharmacists and their teams rely upon a vast and dynamic knowledge base with an emphasis on person-specific care. This expertise is thought to contribute to the perceived value of the service and the relationships between patients and staff. To date, due to a number of factors, not all of these interactions are recorded when a patient consultation is completed with advice only (i.e. without a medicine being prescribed). Considering that this advice is a product of both knowledge and expertise, these interactions contribute to this positive relationship and we really want to draw this aspect out, not only for better understanding, but also to exemplify the efforts of those working in our community pharmacies.

In order to capture this advice, we designed categories of advice, such as: how to take medications, possible side effects, signposting to other services, and health behaviours. Each of these had an associated barcode that staff would scan each time ‘advice only’ was given to let us know what types of advice were provided, by which staff members, and the time taken to do so. We extend our thanks to the two Bannerman pharmacies in Possil and Dunblane for helping us again by taking part in our pilot research. I spent two days at each pharmacy, trying my best not to get in the way, to audit the accuracy of the scans. Each time a staff member would use the scanner, I would write down what they were scanning, so that I could later compare what ‘should’ have been scanned and what was actually scanned.

Across the 4 days, 131 scans made up 81 separate instances of advice only consultations. Arguably, there was a spell of unforeseen ‘taps aff’ weather that meant many more people were opting for BBQs than pharmacy visits during the pilot which probably reduced footfall but the scanners showed an accuracy of 98.2% in the scans performed. As a pilot, smaller numbers are meant to test for how easy it would be to use certain methods and check for their feasibility. With the promising accuracy and positive staff feedback from the pilot, we will use this barcode scanning method to capture advice as part of our project to fully exemplify all community pharmacy services. 8 research sites across the country have now been selected for the full study across Scotland where we will not only capture advice, but get feedback from patients, staff and other healthcare professionals who work closely with the pharmacy network and NHS services. We are very excited to perform such in depth exploration of the healthcare provided by our community pharmacies and look forward to visiting them very soon.

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