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May 23, 2022 Paul O'Hanlon

Hub & Spoke Consultation Rethink: Roles, Responsibilities, Regulations

Centred Solutions Managing Director, Paul O’Hanlon, takes a look at hub and spoke and the question of roles, responsibilities and regulations.

 “The Department of Health Hub and Spoke Consultation document may be extensive, but it remains incredibly vague in a number of key areas. For example, it makes it clear that arrangements need to be in place between the hub and spoke pharmacy, but it provides no guidance on what those arrangements should look like. There is no detail on which activities should take place and where and it doesn’t stipulate who is professionally responsible for the different elements of the dispensing process taking place at the hub and spoke pharmacies. It places responsibility for this firmly at the door of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC): “it is for [GPhC] to consider how they will regulate hub-and-spoke dispending.”

 The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has previously stated it expects pharmacies implementing hub-and-spoke dispensing “to be ready to explain” how they intend to “use system changes to actively promote professionalism” and “uphold the ability of pharmacy technicians to live up to their professional obligations”.

 Whilst we are sure most pharmacies would prefer to know how the GPhC will regulate hub and spoke dispensing as part of the consultation, to ensure a more informed response, we thought it might be useful to outline the role Centred Solutions hub and spoke technology can play in some of these key areas.

 Uphold the ability of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to live up to their professional obligations.

Centred Solutions FLOWRx range frees up pharmacist and pharmacy staff time to practice at the very top of their clinical license.  Reducing the amount of time spent on mundane administrative tasks means pharmacies can focus on clinical outcomes and provide safe and effective patient centred care. 

 Automation releases more time for pharmacists to apply their knowledge, skills and professional judgement in clinical care and to play a bigger role in the delivery of public health.  Pharmacists should not be confined to a dispensary or perceived only as the distributors of medication. They are busy front-line clinicians playing a vital role in providing counsel, education and support to patients who have wide ranging health needs.

 Provide clear definitions of the roles and accountabilities of the people involved in providing and managing pharmacy services

The use of technology in a hub and spoke environment, combined with strong operating procedures, does in fact add greater clarity and definition to roles and accountability - essential for the technology to work effectively.  Workflows are mapped, new and clear procedures are introduced and roles are assigned leaving no ambiguity.  FLOWRx technology ensures there is a clear audit trail with clear accountability at every step of the process.

 Store medications effectively

Centred Solutions hub and spoke technology creates a strong audit trail for every drug, from receipt to storage through to dispensing.  Our technology can also integrate with vendors providing robotic storage and dispensing solutions, ensuring that medications are stored in a way that improves not only safety, but also productivity.

 Ensure medications are safe and fit to use

With multiple verification checks, FLOWRx solutions post alerts for expired medications, provide lot number tracking, manages inventory effectively as well as recording critical drug information such as GTIN and DM&D codes. Should it be required in the future our solution supports compliance with EU FMD regulations requiring the capture of pack serialisation.

 Avoid leaving a patient “stranded”

In FLOWRx, the patient’s prescription is visible at every step of the process.  It is a seamless solution where the hub and spoke work in synergy and partnership.  There is no room in the process for ambiguity and robust standard operating procedures (SOPs) ensure this.

 Communicating effectively on patient care

Hub and spoke dispensing does not change the way the pharmacy communicates with other agencies.  If anything this way of operating ensures that pharmacists and pharmacy staff have more time for communications, which can only be a good thing. 

 Strong risk assessment / assurance

With regimented SOPs, a clear accountability process and clarity in roles and responsibility, FLOWRx solutions improve the quality and integrity of pharmacy data.  Visibility, reporting and repeated verification checks reduce risk and human error.  Our systems are built around patient and medication safety as well as process improvement. We adopt strong project management principles to deliver solutions and robust post implementation support and training.

 It's clear that if the law is changed as proposed in the consultation, the detail will be down to the GPhC. Late last year the GPhC said it might issue additional guidance to set out the regulators’ expectations for pharmacies and pharmacists in more detail.

 Until then our advice would be to explore the hub and spoke options out there on the market and feel free to get in touch with us if you would like to know more about how our technology can help.

Published by Paul O'Hanlon May 23, 2022