We all have a friend who just can’t seem to turn up on time (either that or we’re the guilty culprit.) Many of us develop ‘solutions’ for these friends – giving them a meeting time earlier than the actual time is a popular one. In a way, this is what Aurora’s second Access All Areas dependency, planning for alignment, is about.
It’s not so much that any of the organisations within the healthcare system are running late, but that each organisation runs to its own time. This misalignment can cause delays for medicine access. The NHS works to a fixed commissioning cycle, with budget allocation occurring at a set time. The pharmaceutical industry, by contrast, works to a cycle determined by the stages of drug regulatory approval and subsequent assessment steps and does little to plan ahead. All of this leads to the planning cycles of the NHS and the pharmaceutical industry being out of sync, only righting themselves several years after Health Technology Appraisal (HTA) or similar.
At this stage, it’s not realistic to expect alignment to occur in the short term. This is where the perpetually late friend comes into play – you don’t expect them to stop being late, but you come up with a solution that prevents you from having to wait around for them – which makes your day more efficient.
In the healthcare system, the solution lies in early engagement. Improvements can be made by creating even a small amount of time and space to understand each other’s perspectives, to see where tensions and gaps may exist, to really understand the patient pathway a medicine will be entering.
Early sight of alignment hurdles has the potential to greatly improve patients’ access to medicines. The following recommendations may help you begin:
- Ask yourself to what degree do you know where gaps exist? And how much consideration have you given these gaps in your organisational planning?
- Even if you cannot take corrective action, communicate the gaps up the chain. Those on the ground may have a clearer view, which leaders do not see and would benefit from.
To find out more about this dependency and the other dependencies, read our Access All Areas paper, ‘Creating opportunities for improving patients’ access to medicines,’ available for download here.