End the negativity about pharmacy

end the negativity about pharmacy: Taren Gill

Negativity about pharmacy amongst young pharmacists is misplaced, writes PSA Young Pharmacist of the Year Taren Gill

It’s an exciting time to be a young pharmacist in Australia: every problem we may encounter is an opportunity for a solution. Many new pharmacists speak to me about the negativity in the industry and I remind them that positivity is a choice – the amount of negativity we are hearing is comical and indicative of people who see change as a bad thing.

Across my relatively short career I have seen a gap between what we think patients want and what they actually want. The simple secret to getting anywhere in pharmacy is to listen closely to your patients. Pharmacists are not only medicines experts but also relationship experts – the relationships with our patients, with the government via the Guild, and other health professionals especially doctors are why we are so trusted.

Pharmacists have a huge opportunity to find out what new services can emerge from these relationships. What are our patients and customers of the future telling me now that they need from me, that my entire profession doesn’t currently do?

In an age where every patient is an expert on their health thanks to the internet, how can we package the information we provide as “insight” rather than merely repeating what can be found on the web? How do we educate our patients with knowledge that it is relevant and tailored to every individual, and see a monetary return for that? Workplace health and wellness solutions are an area that no other health professional does well and pharmacy most definitely could by providing health check days, flu vaccinations, weight loss programs and smoking cessation programs.

There are many areas in pharmacy that I believe could be included in the 6th Community Pharmacy Agreement. I have extensive experience in aged care and find it distressing to see aged care facilities serviced so badly by local pharmacy on many occasions.

If pharmacies had to engage in special accreditation just to have the right to provide medication supply to a RACF, perhaps they would need to invest more in the endeavour and not be allowed to be sloppy in their approach, and with PBS price reduction rendering these services not as financially viable, a weekly packing fee from the government for aggregating medicines for the most vulnerable in our community, the aged, is important.

Pharmacists who spend time and money doing a post-graduate specialisation should have their skills and service subsidised by Medicare for their detailed screening in pharmacy and working with medical specialists to provide a cut-above service to that unique patient. This would lead to better health outcomes and less hospitalisations, particularly for chronic disease states.

Let’s help keep people in their homes in the community for longer. The taxpayer should be parting with money for proven outcomes: an example of monitoring the legitimacy of a Health Outcome Fee Payment may be submitting a HbA1c report before and after a pharmacy has worked with a patient, which would provide even more evidence to the government that pharmacy should be in the hands of pharmacists.

I would like to see us clinically equipped enough to do continuance supply and have prescribing rights on a range of medicines enhancing compliance of our patients, and a Medicare consult fee for S3 consults as detailed information collection-and-advice sessions is going to be an important feature of pharmacy to prevent further strain on GP’s.

Pharmacies who don’t meet the minimum advice standards should be stripped of the right to provide Pharmacist Only Medicines till they deliver the service as intended.

The scope of practice for pharmacists into the future is wide and varied with plenty of opportunity for us to innovate and find operationally efficient ways to provide our health services and advice. Regardless of our place of practice we should be building better pharmacies to help our communities and trying new initiatives to ensure sustainability.


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