Development of a tool to facilitate collaborative working between GPs and community pharmacists: a mixed methods study

Simon Harris, Green Light Healthcare Ltd

Research shows that community pharmacists and GPs do not tend to talk to each other much and when they do it is usually because the community pharmacist has contacted the GP to check the details on a patient’s prescription. Research has also shown that patients’ care can be improved by community pharmacists and GPs working closely together on how they prescribe medicines for patients, how they make sure that patients are ok with taking their medicines and how they make sure that the medicines are working properly. Community pharmacists and GPs working in a joined-up way like this is known as collaborative working.

Studies to understand what makes for good collaborative working between community pharmacists and GPs have found things that help, like the GP and the pharmacist actually knowing each other and when they are comfortable talking to each other. There are other things that have been found to help as well. Researchers have drawn diagrams or models showing how these come together to make for good collaborative working.

One model of what good collaborative working looks like was developed in the UK. This model has a list of things that can make collaborative working good, which are called factors, and three levels of how good the collaborative working is. At level 1 there is no collaborative working, at level 2 there is a little bit of collaborative working and at level 3 there is lot of collaborative working. The model has a description of what each level of collaborative working might look like for each factor.

We found problems with trying to use the model with a group of community pharmacists and GPs to work out how good their collaborative working was. But we realised that if we made some changes to the model, community pharmacists and GPs could use it to work out for themselves how good their collaborative working is. This should help them plan how to make it better. In this project we plan to work out exactly what changes we need to make to the model and then see if this works.

To do this, we need to check that we have found all of the problems and see if experts agree on solutions to these problems. We plan to use the model with more community pharmacists and GPs to see if we find more problems. The experts will include community pharmacists, GPs, national experts on collaborative working and patients. We will use what is called the Delphi technique to see if they can suggest and agree on solutions.

To see if the changed model works we will ask a group of community pharmacists and GPs to see if they can work out what level of collaborative working they are at for each factor and whether they find that helps them to plan improvements to their collaborative working. At the end of the research we will have developed a tool that pharmacists and GPs can use to determine how they can work better together.

This project is ran from 16/09/2019 to 15/07/2022. The final report is available to view here.