How I help community pharmacy teams understand drug pricing and reimbursement

Pharmacist Harpreet Chana is responsible for pricing on the Pharmacy Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), which represents the interests of community pharmacy entrepreneurs. Her role focuses on drug pricing, NHS reimbursement and the accuracy of prescription prices – and tries to ensure that pharmacists receive fair treatment.

What is your professional background?

I qualified as a pharmacist in 2006 at Tameside General Hospital in Lancashire. I became Pharmacy Manager for an independent community pharmacy in Salford for a year before taking on a support role as Regional Manager for a small multiple, moving into a Branch and Area Manager role within the same organisation. I then joined United Health UK where I worked as a medication management pharmacist, ensuring that primary care trusts in the South East of England got the most out of their medication software. Scriptswitch prescription through effective training and analysis of prescription data.

Why did you decide to accept a position at the PSNC?

I am passionate about community pharmacy and enjoy helping and educating people, so a role with the organization that is on the cutting edge of the field appealed to me. I wanted the opportunity to make a difference by working alongside leading representatives from across the industry and helping them make informed policy decisions on areas of reimbursement.

With a background in training and data analysis as well as an understanding that community pharmacy reimbursement is a complex issue, I also wanted to work with other pharmacists and pharmacy owners to help them with their questions and overall understanding of the financing of community pharmacies.

What are your current responsibilities?

My role as Pricing Manager covers drug pricing policy and reimbursement, as well as prescription pricing accuracy. I am the drug pricing policy officer, which means that I am responsible for negotiating drug pricing policy changes with the Ministry of Health. I am also responsible for resolving claims for reimbursement from contractors and local pharmaceutical committees (LPC).

Additionally, I oversee the PSNC’s prescription audit activity at the National Audit Center in Enfield and act as PSNC’s principal liaison with the Pricing Authority (NHS Prescription Services), working closely working with them to improve overall prescription pricing accuracy.

What have you learned as a practicing pharmacist that helps you in your current role?

I could not perform my current role without the knowledge and skills I acquired working in practice, as it allowed me to have first-hand experience of the day-to-day pressures faced by pharmacists and their teams. I always take this into account when making a policy decision to ensure that any changes do not inadvertently impact practice.

My previous roles have also provided me with valuable insight into the business and operational management of community pharmacies, as well as hands-on experience in project management, training and problem solving. These skills have been crucial in my current role, where I deal daily with difficult questions that arise from complex pharmacy reimbursement rules.

What do you like most about the role?

Nothing is more satisfying than getting a favorable outcome for pharmacy entrepreneurs who have called because they believe they face an insurmountable challenge and don’t know where to turn for help. Pharmacists may overlook the role of PSNC and all we can do to help, so it’s always nice to exceed expectations.

I’m proud of the drug pricing educational events I’ve hosted for pharmacy teams – the most recent, a webinar attended by over 1,300 people – as they are always well received and help improve understanding of drug pricing. a complex subject.

What is the most difficult aspect of your role and how do you overcome this challenge?

Pharmacy reimbursement is understandably a touching topic for pharmacy owners and the current national funding structure can lead to some complexities at the individual level that can be difficult to resolve. It is difficult to explain to someone that they will have to accept a negative impact on their income and it does not improve over time.

I always try to do my best to achieve a favorable outcome and working for the PSNC is unique in that we can use what we learn from individual cases to inform broader policy discussions to avoid any recurrence of the same problem.

Did you find anything surprising in the role?

Yes – the amount of work the role entails and the amount of work PSNC does. I expected to join a large, diverse organization, but we are actually a small team of people, mostly pharmacists and people with a pharmacy background. This means that we are all passionate about our roles as community pharmacy representatives.

We all work on our individual policy areas and then come together, helping each other provide the information the committee needs to make important policy decisions and keep the best interests of entrepreneurs at heart in everything we do.

Would you recommend a similar career as a pre-registration intern?

Absolutely. I would tell anyone entering the world of pharmacy that it is a diverse profession and you don’t have to limit yourself to working in the community, the hospital or the pharmaceutical industry.

However, I would recommend that newly registered pharmacists practice in their chosen field for a period of time to fully understand the work processes and issues before they can consider going further. Think outside the box and constantly evaluate work methods and procedures to see how they can be improved. It shows willingness, enthusiasm and the ability to show initiative.

What are your personal career plans for the future?

I enjoy training and helping others learn – I have learned a tremendous amount in this role about community pharmacy funding and reimbursement and know this is an area that remains a huge source of confusion for entrepreneurs. I would like to continue educating entrepreneurs and their teams on these areas and drug pricing to help improve understanding.

Eventually, I would like to develop this aspect of my role further and perhaps consider teaching undergraduates or pre-registration interns.

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