What’s the implication of using different data sources to measure sales figures?

As the year end approaches, we consider the implication of using different data sources for informing sales figures to measure performance and set targets for next year.

Since the advent of open data, a wealth of information of information has become available, such as prescribing data which shows exactly which practices have prescribed which product and dispensing data which shows us which pharmacies have dispensed which practices’ prescriptions. So if you are trying to change prescriber behaviour it would seem logical to use prescribing data, whereas affecting the choice offered at a pharmacy might be more informed by dispensing data.

GPrX Data conducted a comparison between NHS dispensing and NHS prescribing data and we expect overall the number of items prescribed by doctors to match the number of items dispensed by pharmacies.

Our analysis used the NHS prescription data which includes items prescribed in England which have been dispensed in England, Wales or Scotland.  The NHS dispensing data may include items prescribed in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man which have been dispensed in England.

However, both data sets relate to all NHS community prescriptions and exclude items prescribed by dentists, on FP10HP forms by hospitals or private prescriptions.

Please note this means that if a prescription was issued, but not presented for dispensing or was not submitted to NHS Prescription Services by the dispenser, then it is not included in the data examined.

Do the number of items prescribed in the community in England match the number of items dispensed in the community in England?

Dispensing vs prescribing national

  • Overall the figures for dispensing and prescribing are about the same at national level

 Where do prescriptions dispensed but not prescribed in England come from?

Prescribed outside England

The majority of prescription dispensed in England are prescribed in England with only 0.01% being prescribed outside England.

Of this small percentage, most of these prescriptions had been prescribed in Wales.

 What difference do we see between prescribing and dispensing figures at postcode level?

Dispensing vs prescribing postcode

  • At postcode level we see that only a quarter of prescriptions are dispensed in the postcode in which they are prescribed.
  • This may be due to more people getting their prescription filled in a difference location to their doctor’s surgery, such as in the town centre, at the supermarket or near to a work location.

What is the difference between dispensing and prescribing figures at the broader postcode area?

Dispensing vs prescribing postcode district

When we examined the difference based on the postcode district i.e. the first four digits of the postcode, we found that there were still 25% of prescriptions that were dispensed outside this postcode locality.

So what does this mean for your sales figures?

If you are targeting pharmacists, then using dispensing data is going to give you the best indication of which products are being supplied. However, if it is the clinical decision makers who influence the device or drug given, then prescribing data will give you more accurate intelligence, both in terms of the location of those decision makers and the choice of product selected. Currently dispensing data is not available at product level for the individual practice, so the greater detail provided in prescribing data gives you much more precise insight on which to measure effectiveness and target activity.

 In our next piece, we will look at the implications of the different data sources at Clinical Commissioning Group level and how prescribing data could help you target key accounts more accurately.

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