New tool promises more than £50,000 in savings for each practice

digital health
“Today we are launching something very exciting: a new tool that identifies over £100m in new prescribing cost savings for the NHS,” Ben Goldacre, campaigner, writer, academic and medical professional, announced in a blog post today

New tool launched by a project part of the University of Oxford’s Evidence-Based Medicine DataLab aims to provide more than £100m in savings for the NHS

[London, UK] A new tool is promising to provide more than £50,000 in savings per year for each practice or Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) across the country, reducing variation in drug costs.

Ben Goldacre, writer, academic, campaigner and medical professional, revealed new research findings in a blog for the University of Oxford’s Evidence-Based Medicine DataLab, where he leads the OpenPrescribing.net project.

“Today we are launching something very exciting: a new tool that identifies over £100m in new prescribing cost savings for the NHS. The average practice can save £50,166 a year by using our tool,” Goldacre wrote.

The tool can be used through the OpenPrescribing.net platform, indicating which drugs can provide the most significant amount of savings for a specific practice or CCG every month, offering an option to choose cheaper medicines.

An alternative to national transformation

In his post, Goldacre explained that in the absence of national changes in terms of regulation, the innovation can help practices and CCGs ‘save huge sums’ in relation to purchasing drugs for patients.

In a new paper outlining the research behind the tool, entitled A new mechanism to identify cost savings in NHS prescribing: minimising ‘price-per-unit’, Goldacre and a team of experts from the OpenPrescribing.net project said they used data from NHS Digital, from October 2015 up until September 2016. Findings led to ‘theoretical maximum’ of £410m in savings.

“£273m of these savings were for individual prescribing changes worth over £50 per practice per month; this compares favorably with generic switching, where only £35m of achievable savings were identified.

“The biggest savings nationally were on glucose blood testing reagents (£12m), fluticasone propionate (£9m) and venlafaxine (£8m). Approximately half of all savings were deemed practically achievable,” it is added in the paper.

In England, £9.3bn was reportedly spent in 2015 on primary care prescribing.

More information on the research is provided here