The Pharmacy Show
The purpose of attendance at the recent Pharmacy Show, was to learn more about existing practices as well as up-and-coming trends and initiatives, especially those in the digital space, to inform the work of both the IPU’s IT Steering Group (ITSG) and the Pharmacy Practice Working Group (PPWG). It also provided a forum for engagement with our UK colleagues in Community Pharmacy England (CPE) and National Pharmaceutical Association (NPA), as well as providing an opportunity to listen to a wide range of speakers on a number of diverse topics.
The speakers and the topics were arranged based on themes in the following theatres:
- Pharmacy Technician;
- Primary care;
- Professional development and careers;
- Public health and wellbeing; and
The IPU delegation attended many of the talks. There was an excellent presentation by Grace Orr-Young (World Pharmacy Council), in which she gave an insightful comparison between the UK pharmacy practice and the community pharmacy practice in Australia. Ms Orr-Young will be visiting Ireland as part of her WPC scholarship, and it will be interesting to note her observations of Irish pharmacy in comparison. There was an interesting talk on a pilot programme within the New Medicine Service and an extension to include antidepressants; the speaker explored the barriers to this service and how to increase participation.
Community Pharmacy England
Janet Morrison OBE, CEO of Community Pharmacy England, was interviewed in one of the closing sessions where she discussed the recent planned investment by the UK Government into community pharmacies in England. The similarities between the issues that our colleagues in the UK are facing in community pharmacy with ourselves, are striking. Ms Morrison outlined that cumulatively £1.2 billion in funding had been removed from the sector, and that the current funding model was punitive, and the impact of this was noted in the reduction in community pharmacies, and Lloyds exiting the pharmacy market was given as an example. Ms Morrison explained the ongoing negotiations on the £645 million funding promised for the sector and what still needed to happen for this money to be released. CPE have recently commissioned The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust to develop a Vision for Community Pharmacy
(see cpe.org.uk > Our work > About us > Our Vision and Strategy). Ms Morrison articulated the importance of this work, which revolved around four key themes, underpinned with continuous improvement. These core themes were:
- Preventing ill health and supporting wellbeing (reducing health inequalities);
- Providing clinical care for patients;
- Living week with medicines (medicine optimisation); and
- Integrated primary care offer for neighbourhoods.
This session was very well attended, and the vision document provides for interesting reading for Irish pharmacists and for policy makers.
The exhibitors at the show were extensive, including a wealth of manufacturers, suppliers and service providers. However, three business types stood out:
- Dispensing robots;
- PMR providers — next generation; and
- Automated prescription collection systems.
The delegation spent a significant proportion of time talking to these providers to understand the unique services they provided and the challenges in entering the Irish market. It was interesting to see the start of AI in dispensary software solutions being employed in systems such as Titan (titanpmr.com) and in the dispensary workflow management being turned on its head in the Positive Solutions’ system (positive-solutions.co.uk). A theme from all PMR providers is to offer complete solutions within their software packages with advanced services, patient apps, business reporting, EPOS and stock management, as well as the use of scanning technology. A glaring difference between the UK systems and Ireland, is their use of a national patient identifier (NHS number) and the delivery of structured and coded prescription information via the NHS Spine. It was also useful to understand access to NHS information systems, where security is managed by card readers and other options for healthcare sites.
Other exhibitors visited were those over electronic CD registers, electronic temperature mapping, medicine delivery management and eMAR (electronic medication administration record system) providers.
With over 300 exhibitors and hundreds of hours of live education content, the Pharmacy Show provided a great overview of the latest knowledge, innovations and technology in pharmacy. It was also a pleasure to bump into IPU members who attended. Overall, a very worthwhile trip to the UK, with many insights and possibilities for IPU committees to consider from the information gathered.