Catching a glimpse of the bigger picture….my internship at Cobic

Catching a glimpse of the ‘bigger picture’….my internship at Cobic

By Sanna Rao

I’m a final year M. Pharm student at King’s College London and I have been lucky enough to have held internships in community and hospital pharmacy throughout my university journey. However, for my last summer break before I graduate I wanted to branch out and embark on something different. I looked into different internships in the healthcare sector and came across Cobic.

Who are Cobic?

Cobic is a relatively new company, at the forefront of changing how health and care services are commissioned and organised in England. They pioneered the development of ‘COBIC’ contracts – which stands for capitated outcomes-based incentivised care. With COBIC contracts, there is a shift in how providers of health and care services are paid. Instead of rewarding providers based on activity (e.g. number of consultations), providers are incentivising to improve outcomes for local people. These outcomes are defined by the people who use the health and care services, through engagement.

The more I looked into Cobic and outcomes-based commissioning (OBC), the more intrigued I became. I wanted to contribute to their work, and be part of a change that will help deliver better outcomes for people, their families and carers. I believe the NHS is moving towards a personalised and patient-centered environment that empowers people to take more control of their health and wellbeing. There is increasing pressure on the NHS with an ageing population, increased prevalence of long-term conditions and limited resources. I believe OBC is a strong solution, which might just help us overcome some of these hurdles. COBIC contracts are an efficient method of providing better-coordinated and integrated care, and improving patients outcomes and their experience of care.

Over the course of my internship, I’ve worked on a variety of projects in my role of Research and Communications Intern. I have improved their website and designed a newsletter. I’ve been involved in creating outcomes frameworks for patients and carers – from engagement work and speaking to service users about the outcomes they want, to researching existing national frameworks and other national publications, as well as contributing to technical specifications, detailing how outcomes data will be collected.

But what does this all have to do with pharmacy?

Pharmacists are vital to the health of the population – the public have easy access to pharmacists allowing us to make a real difference. Pharmacists are involved in public health, medicines management and medicines optimisation – helping patients to make the most of their medicines by focusing on their desired outcomes. In my role at Cobic, I have researched medicines management indicators appropriate for older people – for use in Croydon, which happens to be my hometown! I have reviewed research carried out by other organisations and best practice guidelines, and developed a repository of ‘I statements’ for medicines optimisation. I have gained knowledge on the role of CCGs in ensuring NICE-recommended medicines are available to the local population, how CCGs are responsible for the clinical and cost effective use of medicines, and reviewed CCG strategies for medicines management and medicines optimisation.

Seeing the bigger picture…..

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working with the innovative Cobic team, developing my analytical skills, being able to apply my pharmacy knowledge and travelling around England to create outcomes frameworks. Working for Cobic over my 10-week internship has allowed me to see the ‘bigger picture’. I have become aware of how the NHS is changing, and how services can and should evolve to meet needs and priorities of local people. As a future pharmacist, I believe I am now better equipped to work as a CCG Pharmacist or in the industry as a health outcomes expert, and make a real contribution to delivering better outcomes for patients.

COBIC – Capitated Outcome-Based Incentivised Commissioning – is a common sense approach to securing both value for money and better outcomes for patients. As a contracting approach, COBIC releases commissioning and providing organisations to get the best out of their responsibilities handed to them from the NHS reforms.