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Online pharmacy offers £10 cash incentives for MDS patient referrals

Online pharmacy PillTime is offering pharmacies a £10 cash incentive for every monitored dosage system (MDS) patient referred to it, it has announced.

PillTime’s “pouching system” is designed to save pharmacists and patients time by “providing community pharmacies with an alternative to blister packs”, it said.

Under the system, NHS prescriptions can be pouched into daily doses and delivered directly to patients for free.

The online pharmacy is now encouraging “pharmacies to refer their MDS patients to PillTime, by offering a cash incentive to community pharmacies whose patients switch over after referral”, it said.

In a notice sent to pharmacy managers, PillTime said it “will give you £10 for each patient you refer to PillTime” as “an incentive to get in touch”.

A spokesperson told C+D that pharmacists can invoice PillTime and receive £10 per patient at the end of their third medicine cycle.

Pharmacists can sign patients up for the service with their consent or the patient can sign up independently and state that they were referred by their pharmacist, they said.



Time savings of "just under 72 hours per month"


According to PillTime, which was founded in 2016 and currently provides daily dosage pouches to around 11,000 NHS patients in England, the “typical” community pharmacy serves “200 blister pack patients per month” with an “average of 5.6 items” per patient.

The service, currently only available in England, claims to offer time savings of “just under 72 hours per month in a normal community pharmacy”.

PillTime's superintendent Sadik Al-Hassan said: “Over the past decade and a half, I’ve seen first-hand how blister packs, dossette boxes or MDS trays have sapped time and strength out of community pharmacy.

“This could be the solution to one of the biggest problems facing community pharmacy. It means patients have a safe, straightforward solution to receiving their medication which can work effectively for pharmacies too.”

He added: “For pharmacists, time that has until now been unrewarding can be spent on adding new patient services or developing their businesses. This in turn can also have a great impact on the NHS via service provision and delivery, keeping patients out of hospital and saving beds.”


In September, PillTime told C+D that it was experiencing increased demand for multi-compartment compliance aids (MCCAs) due to a “staffing crisis” in community pharmacy that means many other businesses do not have the time to fill them.


Read more: Are community pharmacies moving away from providing blister packs?


In May, Boots said it was exploring alternative options for patients using blister pack services after the latest Royal Pharmaceutical Society guidance indicated that using blister packs is not “always the most appropriate option for all patients”.


However, the multiple said that MCCAs would “remain in place” where they “are the most appropriate for the patient”.


Following the decision, which attracted criticism in the media, Lloydspharmacy and Well told C+D in June that they had no plans to stop offering MCCAs.


Meanwhile, Rowlands pharmacies have been using a pouch-based dispensing device called PilPouch to help patients taking multiple prescription medicines since 2017.


And Association of Independent Multiple pharmacies chief executive Leyla Hannbeck said that while members are not “withdrawing the service”, they are “under a lot of pressure because [the MCCA service] is not funded at the moment”.


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