In September 2021, the UK government announced plans to add an average of £12 billion per year for health and social care over the next three years. This will help fund innovative solutions, digital services and technology for the NHS following the coronavirus pandemic.

Part of this funding will go into achieving goals set by the government and the NHS, such as its Long Term Plan. This article will discuss a key element of the plan — the medicines optimisation strategy. Emerging digital solutions within the healthcare sector can help the NHS achieve its goals of improving medical treatments and services.

What Is the Medicines Optimisation Strategy?

On average, the UK spends around 20 million a year on medicine. The UK’s medicines optimisation strategy aims to evaluate the value of medicine and how it is administered through a person-centred approach.

The strategy aims to ensure patients get the right choice of medicine and are aware of their prescribed medicines. 

The purpose of the strategy is to make sure patients are engaged in the process by their clinical team and know what to ask for. This will decrease unnecessary prescriptions and the associated costs.

It is estimated that between 30 to 50% of medicines prescribed for long-term conditions are not taken as intended. Medicines optimisation will help patients:

  • Improve their outcomes

  • Take their medication correctly

  • Avoid taking unnecessary medication

  • Reduce wastage of medicines

  • Use their medicines safely

With an increasingly ageing population, the use of multiple medicines (known as polypharmacy) is seen to be increasing each year. By raising awareness of the different types of medicines and new treatments, the NHS can lower the number of prescriptions a person may need.


What Does the Medicines Optimisation Strategy Aim to Achieve?

Approved by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), the strategy encourages patients to take ownership of their treatment. It examines how patients use their medicines and how lifestyle changes or therapies might reduce the need for medicines. 

Alongside the increased monitoring of medicines, the strategy aims to improve overall outcomes of medical treatment and increase testing effectiveness. The four fundamental principles of the strategy are:

  • Understanding the patient experience

  • Evidence-based choice of medicine 

  • Making medicines optimisation part of routine practice 

  • Ensuring medicine use is as safe as possible

How Can Digital Solutions Ensure Its Success? 

New management processes can help put the strategy in place. Supported and studied by organisations such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the RPS, the medicines optimisation strategy can prosper with monitoring and management tools now available. A few examples include: 

  • Prescribing tracking and metrics: An open-access web tool that prescribes data.  Commissioned by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and GP practices, it tracks and provides information on the effectiveness of medicines according to the patient. This includes national trends recorded from medicines and prescription history.
  • NHS RightCare Platform: The new platform helps healthcare professionals by using data, evidence and intelligence to diagnose issues and identify opportunities. By applying RightCare guidance and tools, systems can deliver improvements for patients and their populations. The system works by following these three principles: 
  1. Diagnose the issues and identify the opportunities with data, evidence and intelligence.
  2. Develop solutions, guidance and innovation.
  3. Deliver improvements for patients, populations and systems.
  • Medicines Optimisation Dashboard: Allows local NHS organisations to highlight variations in local practice and provoke discussion on the appropriateness of local care. This includes time series analysis that monitors data and easy to use staff interfaces. This is directly aligned with the NHS RightCare Approach.

Future Innovation in Healthcare

Supporting innovation across the healthcare system is more important than ever. It is crucial to securing improved patient outcome targets and digitalisation across the industry. Following the coronavirus pandemic, digital solutions and funding is soaring up to 300% in development compared to the previous years.

Enabling the fast adoption of cost-effective new technologies will be critical to this success. By investing in the right management tools, the NHS will improve time efficiency and awareness of medical prescriptions for patients.


Want to Learn More about Healthcare Technology?

By investing in innovative medical monitoring systems, the UK can reach its outcome targets across the healthcare sector faster. In the coming years, healthcare technology will become more complex in identifying medicine data trends and as this these systems are adopted, so will medicine strategy targets. 

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