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Using prescribing health and population data to describe the health of a locality : the development and evaluation of a locality health profile

Steinke, D.T. and Burney, S. and Bennie, M. and Hudson, S.A. (2006) Using prescribing health and population data to describe the health of a locality : the development and evaluation of a locality health profile. International Journal of Pharmacy Practice, 14. pp. 21-30. ISSN 0961-7671

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Abstract

Objective To develop and evaluate a pharmaco-epidemiological and public health profile that will aid in the determination and evaluation of the health and pharmaceutical needs of a local population with the National Health Service (NHS). Method Two local health areas (known as local health care co-operatives (LHCCs)) in NHS Lothian with diverse population characteristics had health profiles formally developed using prescribing, hospitalisation and other public health data. The integrated report was able to highlight morbidity issues in each LHCC that could be acted on by either LHCC management or local pharmacy groups. A steering committee and focus groups were used in the design and evaluation process. An evaluation survey of participants including LHCC management, community and LHCC pharmacists and other healthcare professionals was conducted with the main outcome measure being the relative utility of the health profile. Key findings Participants evaluating the health profiles found them informative and useful in decision making and planning for the locality. Participants anticipated using prescribing data to fill information gaps in other datasets and/or provide a primary care perspective to health in the locality. Conclusions Health profiles were developed from prescribing health and population data that were shown to be meaningful and useful to local health authority management and other healthcare professionals. The health profiles contained information that could be used to inform decisions or identify areas where further investigation may be required to find out why a particular anomaly is occurring. In Scotland, the focus of a new community pharmacy contract is on the dual elements of chronic disease management and public health contributions, through prevention of disease and/or limitation of disease impact. There is an urgent need to develop tools that help to inform professional interventions involving pharmacists, and thereby improvements to multidisciplinary co-operation. This study suggests a means of describing the population characteristics for informing a network of community pharmacists about public health priorities within their LHCC.