Greater use of community pharmacists key to more sustainable medicare

pharmacist helping customers

Pharmacy Guild says community pharmacists can help deliver better health outcomes and a more sustainable Medicare.

THE PHARMACY GUILD of Australia has joined the debate on Medicare and its future sustainability, saying any solution to ensure its viability must include Australia’s 5450 strong community pharmacy network in the delivery of “better and more cost-effective health outcomes,” a statement read.

According to the Guild it “will use Minister Sussan Ley’s commitment to consultation on a more sustainable Medicare to advocate vigorously for an array of enhanced pharmacy services that will make the health system more affordable and more accessible for all Australians”.

The Pharmacy Guild’s National President, George Tambassis, said the objective of the Government’s Medicare reform agenda should be to ensure the best health outcomes for patients, delivered with maximum efficiency for taxpayers.

“Australia’s community pharmacy network is the nation’s most accessible health infrastructure, highly trusted by the public and staffed by true health professionals.

“Around the world, governments, hospitals, health insurers and health professionals, including GPs, are increasingly recognising that better utilising pharmacies takes pressure off the wider health system and provides faster, better and cheaper access to treatments and advice for patients.

“Already in Australia, community pharmacies have proven their ability in areas such as enhanced medication support, diabetes services, asthma management and blood pressure monitoring.

“The outstanding success of the recent flu vaccination pilot in Qld is the latest example of how pharmacies can deliver high quality and more convenient and cost-effective services to patients.

“However, Australia is lagging many other countries in terms of making the most effective use of its highly accessible physical pharmacy network and the skills of its pharmacist profession, working in close collaboration with doctors and other health professionals.

“The Government’s Medicare reforms, combined with the upcoming new community pharmacy agreement, aged care reforms, primary health networks and potential changes to the private health insurance rebate provide the right climate to transform pharmacies into true health destinations.”

Tambassis said the Pharmacy Guild would be pursuing a range of service enhancements that would deliver better outcomes for patients and greater efficiency in the health system, including:

  • Enhancing access to prescription repeats for stable, long term conditions;
  • Extending the treatment of minor ailments to community pharmacies;
  • Improving access to vaccinations;
  • Post hospital and transitional care medicine reconciliation support;
  • Basic health checks, screening and preventative health services; and
  • Mental health support.

“The Guild’s focus will be on those service areas where there are gaps in the health system and issues of ready access for patients, including in regional, rural and remote areas where these problems are usually more pronounced,” said Tambassis.

“In most cases, opportunities to deliver these services more cost-effectively, including through the better use of technologies, have not been taken up, leading to increased costs for governments and patients – costs that can be reduced significantly by better utilising pharmacies and pharmacists.

“Pharmacy and pharmacists have the proven capability and stand ready to deliver this common sense approach, taking the pressure off doctors, hospital emergency departments and the wider health system,” Tambassis said.

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