Long term cost savings and quality outcomes for the NHS – new findings from Spirit Health’s prescribing change programmes

New research has been released – demonstrating how a prescribing change programme can deliver long-term cost efficiencies and improve patient treatment 

By on December 1, 2023

Primary care prescribing plays a significant part in the NHS overspend. It’s not a total revelation, but it’s still an area individual ICBs (Integrated Care Boards) struggle with tackling. Analysing and identifying areas of overspend is the first step, and again, that’s not an issue. However, driving that identified change at primary care level by engaging and motivating a stretched workforce within Pharmacy and General Practice is where the challenge lies.   

Spirit Health, an independent service provider to the NHS, in collaboration with Jim Swift, Selma Abed, Chris Barker, Jack Hall, Jimmy Cheung and Keith Pearson announces research that demonstrates how a prescribing change programme can deliver long-term cost efficiencies and improve patient treatment. This research is detailed in a paper published in the British Journal of Healthcare Management, titled “Medical Device Standardization for Diabetes: A 6-Year Evaluation of Cost Savings.  

Driving this change was a dedicated team of Pharmacists, Nurses, Technicians and Project Managers, provided by Spirit Health so as not to overly distract or burden an already busy primary care workforce.  

The team’s primary objective was to implement prescribing changes and collaborate with both patients and the healthcare professionals within primary care to ensure maximum transparency. This service is labelled as, Active Implementation™️. The idea being that implementation was carried out quicker when compared to leaving it to practice staff to implement organically. The study, looking at data over a 6-year period, builds upon research published in 2017, which evaluated the effectiveness of an audit and change programme aimed at improving the cost effectiveness of self-monitoring of blood glucose prescribing within two Greater Manchester Clinical Commissioning Groups.

The main goal of the paper was to assess the sustainability of these changes over a 6-year period, comparing Clinical Commissioning Groups in Greater Manchester that embraced the change programme in 2015 with those who adopted it later or not at all.

To analyse the value and effectiveness of the prescribing change programme, data from prescribing practices across Greater Manchester were extracted from the public database. The reported savings were adjusted using diabetes prevalence data and were compared against the average Clinical Commissioning Group in England. 

The findings of this study provide compelling evidence that NHS organisations can positively benefit from Spirit Health’s prescribing change programmes. Clinical Commissioning Groups that embraced the diabetes prescription change programme in 2015 delivered significantly greater cost savings compared to those that did not adopt the programme. 

Notably, Greater Manchester’s early adoption of the service, Active Implementation™️, obtained a 29.6% reduction in self-monitoring of blood glucose unit costs over 6 years which exceeds the England average of 20.3%. * 

This research demonstrates that a structured change programme aimed at standardising prescribing practices can result in substantial cost savings over a 6-year timeframe. Spirit Health’s innovative approach to medicines optimisation, it’s driving significant cost efficiencies to enable better care for patients locally. 

1 Swift J et al. Implementing formulary change in diabetes. British Journal Health Care Management 2016; 23 (4)




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