Now that more funding for 6CPA programs is available, it’s time to leverage it, writes Stephenie Shea

MedsChecks and Diabetes Medschecks are an important service offered by pharmacies. They aim to identify and investigate problems a patient may be experiencing with their medication regime, provide them with education and support, and ensure effective use of medicines in the community.

With the announcement of the $825 million provision for community pharmacies, it’s a timely reminder for pharmacies to consider how they can maximise the 6CPA programs.

From 1 July 2017, the number of MedsChecks and Diabetes MedsChecks that can be conducted and claimed by community pharmacy has increased from 10 per calendar month to a total of 20 per calendar month. Community pharmacies will be required to collect data for the patients funded under this service.

For many pharmacists, it has been a long-awaited decision to increase the MedsChecks cap. It also gives many of us in the profession confidence that the Government values the contribution pharmacists make to the healthcare sector and that they are able to invest funding into services like these.

To ensure pharmacies conduct MedsCheck services to their full potential to gain best patient outcomes, it’s important the dispensary staff are given direction on how to conduct these services appropriately. Finding a process that works for the particular store with their staffing level is necessary to achieve the service requirements.

These include finding an appropriate area that is either screened off or separated from the general public area of the pharmacy, access to support resources and health information, and ensuring the pharmacist is not responsible for other professional duties while the medication review is being conducted.

Staff training is also relevant to provide a consistent high service level. Providing dialogue cues to help pharmacists and pharmacy assistants recommend the service to customers can be helpful. Knowing how to utilise available pharmacy tools and reporting, such as the GuildCare platform, can also help to identify eligible customers who may qualify for a MedsCheck.

Health calendar events are a good consideration. For example, National Diabetes Week took place on 9-15 July this year. This was an opportune time for dispensary staff to focus on this subset of patients, and start the conversation with patients who are diagnosed with this condition. Often these patients are on multiple medications, experience adverse effects of the condition, and may have, or are at an increased risk of developing co-morbidities associated with diabetes.

MedsChecks are a great way to build rapport with your patients, but ultimately the service educates patients’ on adherence and self-management for their medication regime.

Pharmacies are encouraged to build on this service offering and maximise the potential funding that became available from 1 July.

Stephenie Shea is a pharmacist and the national professional services and pharmaceuticals manager at Discount Drug Stores.