• Run by NHS Highland Pharmacy Team
  • Aimed to improve pharmaceutical care for patients in three remote and rural GP practices in the Scottish Highlands
  • Used telehealth to enable patients to access medication reviews without the patient or pharmacist needing to travel; creating a model for providing pharmaceutical care to patients in rural and hard to recruit locations
  • Ran from January 2017 to April 2018

NHS Highland covers a large geographical area, but its population is sparsely distributed. It is difficult to recruit health professionals in rural areas, and clinicians spend a lot of time driving to reach remote locations.

Patients of dispensing GP practices in Scotland should receive pharmaceutical care from a clinical pharmacist independent prescriber. Despite having a tested model to provide this, geographical challenges meant it was not happening everywhere.

Pharmacy Anywhere aimed to address this. It used two forms of telehealth (remote access to medical records and video consulting) to enable pharmacists to provide care remotely to patients in three rural dispensing practices.

During the pilot, 388 patients were offered Pharmacy Anywhere appointments; 331 accepted. Most patients chose a telephone consultation rather than video – mainly due to poor internet connectivity.

Most consultations (70%) resulted in an intervention to ensure safe and effective medicines use: proving the service was needed. On follow-up three to six months later, 99% did not need further interventions. Providing the service by telehealth instead of in person saved £8,448 a year for these three practices. Satisfaction was high among patients and staff.

The enablers to the success of the project were a readiness to focus on telehealth, a culture of improvement, and support provided by GP practices, the eHealth department and telehealth platform providers. An important barrier was the lack of internet connectivity in rural areas, preventing the use of video consulting.

Pharmacy Anywhere is now integrated into NHS Highland’s pharmacy service and has led to the creation of NHS Near Me, which aims to deliver telehealth at scale.

Contact

For more information about this project, please contact Clare Morrison, Lead Pharmacist (Quality Improvement), NHS Highland.

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