Boost for minor ailment treatment


health worker bandaging an elbow

Running a national minor ailment scheme through community pharmacy is cost effective, and clinically effective, new research claims

Researchers from the University of Technology Sydney conducted a randomised controlled trial in over 700 patients from 30 Western Sydney pharmacies to compare the clinical impact of a community pharmacist delivered minor ailment service (MAS) compared with usual pharmacist care.

An economic analysis of the research has now found that, on average, “MAS was more costly but also more effective (in terms of symptom resolution and quality adjusted life year gains) compared to usual care,” they found.

Their study, and previous research had “proven clinical effectiveness” of minor ailment schemes when compared to current usual practice in Australian community pharmacies, the authors said.

Now, their economic findings indicate there is “significant potential to amplify self-care and responsible self-medication in Australia,” they said.

“It is recommended that due consideration be given for community pharmacies nationwide to adopt and implement MAS. There should be a focus on upskilling community pharmacists to deliver MAS in an integrated and coordinated capacity”.

They highlighted the possibility to expand pharmacists’ role in clinical areas such as minor abrasions, wounds, strains and sprains, minor burns, or prescribing certain prescription medicines within a collaborative model for certain conditions. 

“With national implementation in the Australian health system there is potential for system efficiency gains, demonstrated through delivering health care that is optimally cost-efficient and clinically effective at an appropriate level, and working collaboratively within an integrated system”.

“The implicit assumption is that patients consulting GPs or EDs for these conditions could be reduced by transferring patients, where appropriate, to the community pharmacy setting with the aim of fully utilising primary health locations and professionals in Australia”.

The research was published in the journal Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation

In a separate study, UTS and University of Sydney researchers conducted a systematic scoping review of the role of pharmacy support staff in a minor ailment scheme.

They found there was “scant MAS training for community pharmacy support staff”.

“Furthermore, existing training for any stakeholder group did not include guidance pertaining to service delivery. A structured training approach for the entire community pharmacy team is recommended to promote MAS outcomes and deliver a robust, high quality service”.

This study was published in Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning.

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