A TEAM from NHS Highland has been awarded £74,300 funding from independent healthcare charity, Health Foundation, for an innovative telehealth project designed to help improve patients’ access to pharmaceutical care.
The NHS Highland project, which will run for 15 months, and is led by lead pharmacist (quality improvement) Clare Morrison, will use the latest telehealth technology to improve healthcare delivery and the way people manage their own healthcare, by testing and developing innovative ideas and approaches and putting them into practice.
“This award provides us with a fantastic opportunity to deliver higher quality care for patients in remote and rural areas. Our face-to-face version of this service has demonstrated the need for clinical pharmacy input into dispensing practices: the next step is finding out if we can deliver the service using telehealth and that’s what this project will find out.
“It’s a privilege to have been selected as one of the 22 projects across the UK that the Health Foundation is supporting through this funding. We are really excited about this project and can’t wait to get started,” Clare told Pharmacy in Practice.
Pharmacists will provide medicines advice and medication reviews remotely for dispensing practice patients. Patients will be able to speak to the pharmacist from their own home, workplace, or medical practice via a telehealth link.
A face-to-face version of this service, in which a pharmacist visited dispensing practices, has already been developed by NHS Highland in a pilot involving four practices. It proved popular with both patients and GP practice teams, and has been shown to improve medicines care for patients.
However, extending the service to all dispensing practices has not been possible due to NHS Highland’s large geographical area and difficulties with recruiting pharmacists in remote locations. These issues could be overcome if the service can be delivered by telehealth, and this project aims to find out if this is possible.
Over the course of the programme the team will develop its innovative idea and approach, put it into practice and gather evidence about how the innovation improves the quality of healthcare.
Sarah Henderson, Associate Director from the Health Foundation said, “We are very excited to be working with such a high-calibre of teams, who all have great innovative ideas. As an organisation we are keen to support innovation at the frontline across all sectors of health and care services, and I am pleased that we will be able to support these ambitious teams to develop and test their ideas over the next year.
“Our aim is to promote the effectiveness and impact of the teams’ innovations and show how they have succeeded in improving the quality of healthcare, with the intention of these being widely adopted across the UK.”