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Trust develops a training portal to deliver medicines optimisation, enhancing junior pharmacists’ clinical problem solving skills and improving care for patients

Challenge

    • Enhance junior pharmacists’ clinical problem solving skills to deliver medicines optimisation

Action

    • Developed a Medicines Learning Portal to help junior pharmacists’ develop clinical problem solving skills
    • Created a free website www.medicineslearningportal.org, encouraging consistency of training and reducing duplication of effort
    • Delivered training via online text, images, quizzes, audio, clinical scenarios, and added links to other quality web resources
    • Evidence-based tutorials focused on safety aspects of medicines

Result

    • Online survey in 2017 generated responses from 310 site users
    • 94% respondents said the site helped learners make clinical decisions
    • 90% said it improved their questioning skills
    • 83% said it helped pharmacists care for patients
    • 85% said the website saved teaching time in the NHS

* Please describe the challenges or problems your solution set out to solve.

Every NHS Trust trains junior pharmacists to solve clinical problems. Our free website www.medicineslearningportal.org prevents duplication and encourages consistency by teaching the skills required. Delivered via online text, images, quizzes, audio, clinical scenarios, plus links to other quality web resources. Mobile compatible. Evidence-based tutorials focus on safety aspects of medicines; co-written with clinical experts to ensure they reflect best practice. Overall content/quality assurance in partnership with 15 organisations – a ‘crowd-source’ type model.

A one-stop-shop for junior pharmacists in every NHS Trust, but also used by others. Essential support to NHSE ‘Medicines Optimisation’ initiative and Lord Carter review of Pharmacy.

* Please describe the actions you took to achieve your result.

A survey of pharmacy learners and tutors in 2014 confirmed 20 priority clinical subjects for teaching based on high frequency of occurrence in practice (e.g. side effects) or the high level of risk involved (e.g. medicines in pregnancy). Consultation with chief pharmacists and clinical specialists in the Thames Valley and Wessex area identified further topics (e.g. decision making, on-call training).

Discussion with individual pharmacy leads identified key themes for learners (e.g. knowing the right questions to ask; applying professional judgement). Negotiated with various partners to secure input, linkage, and promotion of the site e.g.

• Royal Pharmaceutical Society endorsed site and promoted it;

• College Postgraduate Pharmacy Education helped link to their materials;

• HEE paid web design costs and helped produce assessment materials for learners;

• Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacy Group gave site content and quality assured material. Content writing efficiency achieved by utilising up-to-date NHS training resources (e.g. lectures, workbooks).

See both attachments for site overview and example pages.

The site was launched on time with a soft launch on 1st October 2015; followed by user testing and a formal launch to pharmacy networks in March 2016. This project has been supported at all levels at University Hospital Southampton (‘UHS’).

The small Medicines Advice team managed by Simon Wills (project lead) drafted most of the content; UHS clinicians commented on and improved clinical content; the Chief Pharmacist has helped promote the site to pharmacy networks; the Chief Executive and Divisional Director jointly approved the site as suitable to carry the UHS logo.

COSTS

Costs are within the envelope agreed at UHS:

• Capital costs were small (£1,000 one-off for specialist web design skills) and were paid for by Health Education England.

• Staff costs to maintain site (about £14k per year) paid for by UHS. Non-staff running costs minimal (£25 per year).

VALUE

Value to the host Trust has been publicity across the NHS and improved training of staff internally. The wider NHS has benefited from a free resource to improve quality and consistency of essential training, and a reduction in duplication of effort. The website has attracted over 325,000 visits since launch. A survey of over 300 users in 2017 established that the site was valued (for more details see Questions 6 and 7) and also generated many new ideas for site evolution which are currently being implemented.

* Please list the most significant results

An online survey in 2017 generated responses from 310 site users (learners and tutors) from across the UK.

Key results included:

• 94% respondents said the site helped learners make clinical decisions

• 90% said it improved their questioning skills

• 83% said it helped pharmacists care for patients

• 85% said the website saved teaching time in the NHS

• 94% liked the appearance of the site and 92% liked the length of tutorials

Site users are keen to offer feedback via the ‘Contact Us’ feature and regularly offer suggestions for new approaches or content.

* Describe how your project has spread to other teams, departments or organisations

The 2017 survey showed the Medicines Learning Portal reaches a wide geography. UHS is based in Hampshire, but the top three areas: 15% London; 11% Yorks & Humber; 11% Kent, Surrey, Sussex. Discussion with users reveals it’s the principal source used in large teaching Trusts (e.g. Guy’s, Leeds). Use has spread beyond the original audience.

The team were invited to contribute a feature to a Pharma Industry magazine which may help improve their information services to the NHS. Although not promoted to nurses, some of the content is valuable to them (e.g. side effects, compatibility of injections).

Categories

Support service (clinical)

Support service (non-clinical)

Type of organisation

Year

Key individuals

Simon Wills