The Wonders of CMS

Kirsten Bowden

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

I first encountered serial prescriptions about 18 months ago when I moved from central Scotland to Elgin.  It was a whole new concept for me and it took me about 6 months to fully get to grips with the whole process.  At that time we were never really getting it right for our patients and communication with the GP practice could be difficult at times – something just didn’t feel quite right.

I recognised that our process in store needed to be reviewed and had meetings and regular contact with the GP surgery.  This allowed us to discuss any problems we were facing and work together to find solutions that suited both the pharmacy and GP practice.  We spent some times getting to know our respective computer systems and overhauled our in store process.  We wanted to make sure we had the best process possible so we took advice from the Health Board and used some of the valuable experience we had gained from the earlier stages of the pilot.

It was a huge change for the pharmacy team, but getting them to understand the “why” behind the changes really helped to get them engaged.  Their positive attitude and support made the whole process so much easier and got us to our end goal much quicker than I anticipated.  Our main aim was to make sure we were providing a high level of service to our patients and secondly, to help minimise the workload for the GP practice.

Over time we managed to produce a robust process that is completely centred around strong communication and relationships.  This involves clear conversations with patients around their needs and expectations (particularly when managing PRN medicines to prevent over supply), with full audit trails detailing these discussions.  Audit trails are pivotal for a successful process as they ensure everyone in the pharmacy team has all of the information needed to support the patient at any time.  Any problems need to be communicated promptly and efficiently to the GP practice so that the appropriate changes can be made.  It is a 3-way process of communication – when you crack this, you crack managing a high volume of CMS serial prescriptions.

We now have over 1200 patients on serial prescriptions and 99% of the time we get it right for them.  We have their prescriptions ready, on time, with the correct stock and get a chance to chat about their health and wellbeing.  This helps to support the GP agenda too and we have some clinically significant interventions that can have huge impacts on quality of life – I say 99% of the time because we are still human after all!

Although it has taken some time, a lot of reflection and continual process improvement, it has certainly been worth it.  We already know about the clinical benefits of CMS to patients, but the practical benefits only make it more appealing.  It really lifts the pressure felt day to day with increasing prescription numbers and chronic conditions on the rise.  It allows you to have full control over your manageable workload; improves working relationships with local practices and in store teams; and gives the pharmacist the opportunity to do what we do best – spend some much needed time with our patients.  It even gives you the chance to grab a quick cuppa!

Is there something you can do to encourage the growth of serial prescriptions in your local area? I can guarantee it will revolutionise your working practice and you will never look back!