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Women to Watch 2020

Nabila Chaudhri

Director of pharmacy, Babylon Health

Nabila Chaudhri

Source: Nabila Chaudhri

Nabila Chaudhri is helping to share tech startup company Babylon Health's expertise around the world

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Nabila Chaudhri may have stumbled into her current role at Babylon Health, but since then, her career in digital healthcare has soared.

Then a fledgling tech startup company, Babylon — whose mission is to put “accessible and affordable healthcare into the hands of every person on earth” — was looking to appoint a pharmacist to help with their prescription processes and, luckily, Chaudhri was up for a new challenge.

She initially said she would give the job six months but, four years later, Chaudhri is overseeing a fast-growing team of remote prescribing pharmacists and is helping to spread Babylon’s expertise around the world.

“When I started, we were probably doing about 30 consultations a day. Now, we probably do that in an hour and are a global company.”

While the rest of the NHS is still getting to grips with remote consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 90,000 patients already have Babylon’s ‘GP at Hand’ as their digital NHS GP practice.

As director of pharmacy, Chaudhri has been a major part of that success. She has helped prove the case that more than a third of online appointments could be capably handled by prescribing pharmacists, and in 2020 doubled the number of remote prescribing pharmacists to 45.

And her ambitions do not stop there: “We have scaled up and we now have plans to double that again.”

Chaudhri is involved in all parts of the prescribing process, collaborating with engineers to safely implement repeat prescription ordering via the Babylon app, and ensuring good prescribing practice. “I fell in love with it. I have a team of pharmacists and I’m able to identify things that are not quite right and that we need to learn from, and influence change. I have complete autonomy,” she says.

One aspect of the pharmacy team’s work she is particularly proud of is around global antibiotic stewardship: they have set themselves the target of being the first organisation to proactively and continuously safeguard antibiotic use at a global scale. And, in the UK, audits show that Babylon Health has reduced antibiotic prescribing below the national threshold across a range of measures. Chaudhri is now sharing this learning with teams in Canada and Rwanda.

“The expectation could be that patients access us more for antibiotics; so we made a conscious decision to monitor prescribing, and we have been able to manage both appropriateness and level of antibiotic prescribing,” she says.

She continues to be involved in setting up new services across the world, and the next stop is Malaysia: “My goal is to increase the pharmacy workforce globally and enable them to replicate the success we have had in the UK.”

Chaudhri's previous roles as store manager at Boots and area manager at Morrisons supermarket were good preparation for her current position. However, it was the experience she had as an inspector for the General Pharmaceutical Council that taught her the most.

“That was the most insightful role, and I was exposed to lots of different environments and scenarios. I found it very useful but, ultimately, I was constricted in the same ways I had been in other jobs, in that I was working within the remit of the regulator and couldn’t have my own opinion,” she says.

The same cannot be said now, as she forges her career at one of the most innovative healthcare providers in the UK and helps rewrite the rulebook on what pharmacists are able to do.

Panel comments

“Nabila started her role out of nothing and carved out a totally new role. She sounds like the sort of person I could learn a lot from”

"The work she has done has had an impact nationally and globally"

"Nabila is a truly inspirational pharmacist that has gone above and beyond"

Meet the rest of The Pharmaceutical Journal's Women to Watch 2020 here.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20208577

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