Feb 4, 2021

UK’s first “pharmacy-first” digital healthcare service

pharmacy
digital healthcare
triage
telehealth
Leila Hawkins
2 min
UK’s first “pharmacy-first” digital healthcare service
Well Pharmacy and Push Doctor have launched a “pharmacy-first” digital healthcare service...

The UK’s first “pharmacy-first” digital healthcare service has launched. 

Digital healthcare platform Push Doctor has partnered with Well Pharmacy, Britain’s largest independent pharmacy chain, to create a new service that will allow patients to be treated by pharmacists for minor ailments. 

Using any device able to make video calls and with an internet connection, patients can conduct virtual consultations with a Well pharmacist, at a time of their choice. 

A survey by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) found that up to a third of patients could be treated by pharmacists instead of their doctor if necessary. This new venture, which is being piloted in the south west of England, will provide over 50,000 patients with direct access to local community pharmacists via the Push Doctor platform.

“Through this partnership with Push Doctor we will demonstrate the central role pharmacists can play in providing primary care, prompting a shift towards a pharmacy-first patient mindset” said Seb Hobbs, CEO of Well Pharmacy. “The partnership provides an amazing opportunity for us to increase patient access to pharmacy services and ensure that they can fully leverage the expertise of these highly trained clinicians.”

If successful, it will be rolled out nationwide, potentially offering the same service to Push Doctor’s 5.7 million users. This will help free up doctor’s appointments for more serious health issues, easing the burden on the local NHS while demand remains high as a result of the pandemic.

“By directing patients to the most appropriate clinician in the first instance we can treat them faster and more effectively, delivering better health outcomes across the local area” Wais Shaifta, Chief Executive of Push Doctor said. 

“By fully utilising the skill and expertise of pharmacists, we will remove non-essential footfall for GP practices, freeing up more time for GPs to see patients with more serious medical issues. We hope this will be the start of a new pharmacy-first delivery model that will set up a future digital NHS across the country.”

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Jul 24, 2021

A guide to labelling compliance for medical devices

medicaldevices
Technology
healthcare
Compliance
Susan Gosnell
4 min
A guide to labelling compliance for medical devices
Susan Gosnell, Product Manager at Loftware, explains labelling compliance for small medical device manufacturers

Small medical device manufacturers often find themselves scrambling to achieve the necessary compliance and validation, risking costly mistakes.

Validating systems and processes including labelling, to ensure they are compliant with stringent regulatory standards is tough and can be expensive. Indeed, compliance with the EU’s Medical Device Regulation (MDR) will cost more than 5% of annual sales, according to 48% of 101 companies polled by the German company Climedo Health, in July and August 2020 about their MDR-readiness.

But if companies bungle the software validation process or put incorrect and uncompliant data on the labels themselves, the penalties are likely to be more severe than just making corrections. Health and safety may be put at risk and fines imposed for failing to comply. When it comes to compliance, they may become overwhelmed with regulations in other geographic regions that focus on device traceability, each with a unique device identifier (UDI-like) component to it. 

On the validation front, companies may not be familiar with the software validation process and the multiple tests and documentation necessary for validation are demanding if companies only have a small IT team that is very busy.

Putting a plan in place

MDR-compliant labelling, however, brings with it certain requirements which differ from what is demanded under the FDA’s Unique Device Identification (UDI) system rules. Under MDR, for example, manufacturers must ensure the label specifically states the device is a medical one using an MD symbol in a box. This is only one of many stipulations that usually require redesigned labels.

Small medical device manufacturers who rely on time-consuming and error-prone manual or legacy labelling processes to facilitate these label updates run the risk of mislabelling which can lead to non-compliance.  They may have limited staff and no structured processes around roles and responsibilities when it comes to label design, changes and approval. As project leads work toward a compliant labelling process, it is therefore important to establish defined roles and access for each stage of the process.

When dealing with a compliance initiative, up to date, correct and compliant labelling is imperative. This involves having all the relevant label design elements in place to comply with the EU MDR or FDA regulations. Many times, label templates are hard coded, meaning IT must be involved in making changes. And with IT staff often being tasked with multiple mission-critical projects in the organisation, labelling projects can be delayed. For many small medical device manufacturers who have limited resources, finding a solution can be a challenge.

Why labelling in the cloud offers a roadmap forward

Validation-ready cloud labelling solutions have now emerged to ease compliance with regulations and time-consuming validation requirements. These solutions, built with the needs of regulated companies in mind, digitise the quality control processes and facilitate compliant labelling with role-based access, approval workflows and electronic signatures. Outside of compliance, carrying out labelling in the cloud drives scalability and productivity for small medical device manufacturers and boosts overall efficiency.

The latest cloud labelling solutions integrate with other cloud solutions, allowing for seamless functionality and minimising the need for local infrastructure resources and cost.

When it comes to validation, as with many labelling systems, those hosted in the cloud have vendor-supplied documentation that streamlines the process and significantly eases the burden when it comes to installation qualification (IQ). The manufacturer itself has a much lighter burden and a streamlined path to a validated system and process.

A more relaxed software release schedule eases the validation burden on life sciences companies because the software is updated once a year rather than multiple times. This gives them a continuously updated and maintained labelling solution without increasing the validation workload on their IT staff.  

Future-proof technology

The manufacturer would of course need to work closely alongside the vendor and review the documentation, but, if needed, the vendor is able to do much of the work for them, providing not only the full validation acceleration pack but also professional services to assist with the validation process.

While some medical device manufacturers choose to tackle validation on their own, the vendor supplied validation acceleration pack or documentation helps to simplify the process. Consultancy and advice around validation is usually available from the vendor, tailored to the business’s specific needs.

Given the immense hassles of compliance for small device manufacturers, cloud-based labelling systems offer the benefits of a full label management system while easing compliance and validation. This is a future-proof technology. With a cloud-based labelling system, medical device manufacturers can be confident that they are running the most up-to-date software, enabling them to address the fast-changing new regulations and cope with whatever comes their way. And especially in the current pandemic, when face-to-face meetings are still problematic, it is a perfect way to keep labelling operations moving forward.

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