An innovative health service for people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) has been launched by The Co-operative Pharmacy and the Met Office in preparation for winter.
The service, called Healthy Outlook®, is being introduced as a pilot scheme which is being funded by the Department of Health National Innovation Fund across 26 pharmacies in Lancashire.
If the pilot is successful, the service, which can help those with COPD manage their condition and reduce the stress to the individual and their immediate family, could be rolled out more widely in a community pharmacy setting.
The Co-operative Pharmacy is the first community pharmacy chain to introduce the service, which has already proved to be successful when run within Primary Care Organisations (PCOs) via GPs. Healthy Outlook® is currently live across seven PCOs.1
When patients sign up to the service at The Co-operative Pharmacy they will receive a patient pack containing advice and tools that can help them to manage their condition. They will also be alerted to conditions in the environment which are expected to increase the risk of symptoms of COPD becoming worse by an automated telephone call to a number of their choice.
Each week the Met Office and Health Protection Agency will provide a COPD local risk forecast for the week ahead. Using their knowledge of the weather, pollution levels and circulating infections to forecast how the conditions will affect those suffering from COPD, they will create a standard warning for the customer which also reminds them of any precautionary steps they should take.
Studies have shown that a 20 per cent reduction in hospital admissions can be achieved with similar services.2 Offering the service in a community pharmacy setting means more people with COPD will be able to get improved access to advice and support.
In addition to bringing about patient benefits, Healthy Outlook® has the potential to save the NHS £1,960 for each patient that is admitted to hospital locally for a COPD episode. Across the UK COPD admissions currently cost the NHS more than £310 million each year.3
There are around 30,000 COPD-related deaths each year in the UK and it is the second highest cause of emergency hospital admissions. Around 25 per cent of those emergency admissions have never previously been in hospital due to their COPD but have a sudden exacerbation.3 This group are the most likely to benefit from the Healthy Outlook® service. They are also the patients who are less likely to visit their GP regularly.
Jane Devenish, Clinical Services Pharmacist at The Co-operative Pharmacy, said: “This is a simple concept that empowers patients, helping them to take control of their condition and prevent flare ups from occurring. Offering Healthy Outlook in a community pharmacy setting will offer greater accessibility to COPD health advice and offer positive benefits for the NHS.”
Katie Russell, Met Office Business Manager for Health, said: “We are excited to be working with the Co-operative and Department of Health this winter in support of the new pilot scheme for COPD sufferers. The Met Office have been involved in Health forecasting for a number of years and practices that took part in the scheme last year saw a 20 per cent decrease in the number of emergency admissions.”
The British Lung Foundation (BLF) is the UK's lung charity, leading the fight against lung disease through prevention, support and research. Alistair Martin at The British Lung Foundation said: "We welcome The Co-operative Pharmacy and The Met Office's pilot to improve access to the Healthy Outlook service through community pharmacies. Changes in the weather, particularly sudden cold snaps, can have a significant impact of the health of people with COPD. We hope that this service will help people living with COPD better manage their condition as the weather changes, in order to help to keep themselves well throughout the colder months and beyond."
To widen the scope, The Co-operative Pharmacy has also introduced a paid for version of Healthy Outlook® at a cost of £29 per annum, at 26 pharmacies in the Midlands region.
The Healthy Outlook® service can also be purchased online via www.pharmacy.co.uk at a cost of £29 for a year.
For more information visit: http://www.co-operativepharmacy.co.uk/Pharmacy/Content/Healthy-Outlook
Notes to editors
1 Primary Care Organisations that have contracts with the Met Office for Healthy Outlook® include:
- NHS Bath and North East Somerset
- NHS Worcestershire
- NHS Moray
- NHS Sutton and Merton
- NHS Eastern Coastal Kent
2 Based on a 40% uptake of the service from Met Office and NHS customer service evaluations.
3 This is a weighted average cost calculated from national tariff cost information and activity levels taken from reference cost data. It is only inpatient costs that are included in this average; intensive care unit, high dependency unit and ambulance costs are not included.
NICE - National costing report: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/live/13029/53292/53292.pdf
National Clinical Guideline Centre. (2010) Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in adults in primary and secondary care. London: National Clinical Guideline Centre. Available from: http://guidance.nice.org.uk/CG101/Guidance/pdf/English
Locations for the service include:
Lancashire – DoH funded Healthy Outlook
Midlands – Paid for service
For more information contact:
Senior Public Relations Officer – Pharmacy
The Co-operative Group
Contact information for the Met Office
Met Office Press Office: +44 (0)1392 886655
Met Office Customer Centre: 0870 900 0100
If you're outside the UK: +44 1392 885680