Stop, collaborate and listen

Healthcare works best when it’s trusted, available and collaborative, writes Marc Clavin

Accessible healthcare is, at any level, the foundation of our Australian communities. That said, accessibility is not the only contributing factor to an effective healthcare eco-system that puts the best interests of patients at its heart.

Important though accessibility may be, healthcare works best when it’s trusted and collaborative and health professionals need to work together for better patient outcomes across all healthcare settings.

Collaboration is difficult to define, hard to make happen and can be hampered simply by the ever-shifting environment in which our industries now operate.

The avalanche of health advice and information available for our patients can be overwhelming in volume and often conflicted, depending on whose opinion is being heard. Moreover, the parameters of our services are being questioned and assessed by our always important customers and healthcare stakeholders.

This undoubtedly presents a unique opportunity for pharmacy to provide a credible referral, diagnosis and management pathway for customers. However, this can only be realised with a genuine and complete willingness of all healthcare professionals, including ourselves, to operate together—recognising the shared benefits that come from a collaborative, industry-led and patient-first approach.

The examples are many of inter-professional partnerships leading to better health outcomes for patients through coordinated and holistic care plans. Facilitated by timely communication, transitions in care go more smoothly when this approach is taken, decreasing the risk of errors and providing a better overall patient experience.

Any approach that empowers our patients to take a more proactive approach to their own health, helps to reduce pressure on an already stretched health system.

The Amcal & Guardian National Council (AGNC) is taking active steps in developing innovative programs that require a framework tailored to each individual patient. Specifically, designing programs that identify, refer and assist the patient to the best possible solution; such as Sleep Apnoea and HbA1c testing.

We find that carefully designed and researched health programs are very well received by all stakeholders. However, we cannot deliver these programs without a commitment to collaboration by our healthcare peers.

Most recently, funding opportunities in 6CPA have provided numerous collaboration opportunities which support holistic patient care. Beginning with HMRs through to DVA DAAs and the other specialty PPIs included in Medication Adherence & Management Programs, pharmacists and GPs are being rewarded for a collaborative approach to patient care.

This approach is growing in popularity and many inter-professional relationships and communications are developing with mutual respect and value, producing a clear benefit to patients.

It has not gone unnoticed, however, that with new funding models and technologies, healthcare professionals across all sectors may need to reassess current procedures and practices, by embracing systems that meet this changing nature of the healthcare framework.

To do this, improving ease of communication between health professionals is essential. Whether via technology, or simply by personal commitments to building respectful professional relationships, better communication will lead to better patient care.

Beyond our day-to-day roles, it’s critical that our leaders in the healthcare sector maintain a focus on encouraging integration and collaboration between health professionals – this is where we expect our professional organisations to be active.

Pharmacies will continue to be an important part of the patient journey for many disease states and an integral component of good patient outcomes for our community.

It’s simple: a patient-centric focus results in the right referral process, which is ultimately right for the individual and their respective healthcare needs.

Marc Clavin is the President of Amcal & Guardian National Council. The Amcal Guardian National Council (AGNC) is a peak representative body comprised of 11 Amcal and Guardian pharmacists from around Australia, to advise the company’s senior management on future brand development initiatives.

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