Four GP clinics get integrated pharmacists

NWMPHN CEO Adjunct Associate Professor Christopher Carter with PSA National President Dr Shane Jackson.
NWMPHN CEO Adjunct Associate Professor Christopher Carter with PSA National President Dr Shane Jackson.

A PSA program will see pharmacists integrated into four general practices in Melbourne to support Quality Use of Medicines activities

The Victorian-first program is being supported by North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN).

The PSA is rolling out the Pharmacists in General Practice program: a new model of care that will see non-dispensing pharmacists working at the Caroline Springs Superclinic, North Richmond Community Health, IPC Health Deer Park and Calder Medical Clinic in Keilor.

The services provided by the general practice pharmacists may vary between practices but will include:

  • patient-directed activities such as identifying and resolving medication use and safety problems, medicines education and medicines reconciliation and improving relationships with other care providers including community pharmacists;
  • staff-directed activities such as practice staff education sessions, answering medication information queries; and
  • practice based activities such as Drug Utilisation Reviews and advice on prescribing according to evidence-based guidelines.

PSA National President Dr Shane Jackson says for the first time in Victoria, the Pharmacists in General Practice program will see pharmacists integrated within general practice working directly with GPs, practice nurses and practice managers to the benefit patients including those with complex needs.

“With the rapid rise in chronic disease, this is a timely intervention that can expand expertise in dealing with complicated conditions and deliver improved patient outcomes,” Dr Jackson says.

NWMPHN CEO Adjunct Associate Professor Christopher Carter says the program shows the importance of creating a more integrated and coordinated primary health system.

“This initiative is a really good example of how bringing our health system closer together can directly support better outcomes for patients, providers and the system as a whole,” A/Prof Carter says.

The program is based on evidence that a team-based model of care such as this is more cost-effective and can also improve equity and access to health services.

Pharmacists can respond to complex medicinal queries, educate practice staff and support activities that enhance MBS billing, the organisations say.

Health stakeholders have been lobbying for pharmacist integration into general practice for some time; for example the AMA’s Council of General Practice Chair Dr Richard Kidd wrote last week that evidence is growing to support the practice.

“If general practices were supported to employ non-dispensing pharmacists as part of their healthcare team, they would be able deliver real cost savings to the health system, of $1.56 for every dollar invested,” he wrote.

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