Health Care Homes community pharmacy trial to proceed


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The Health Minister and Pharmacy Guild have taken the next step towards the delivery of the trial program for community pharmacy involvement in Health Care Homes

Just last month, Pharmacy Guild national president George Tambassis criticised the rollout of Health Care Homes, questioning why funding had been agreed to but not yet made available to pharmacists.

He was referring to a compact the Australian Government signed with the Guild in May 2017, which included a $30 million investment to incorporate medication management programs within Health Care Homes, allowing community pharmacists to get involved.

This funding is provided by the government under the 6CPA.

“There’s $30 million attached to that for community pharmacies, that’s money that should flow through community pharmacy,” said Mr Tambassis at a September 2018 event.

“Some of this takes a while to flow through but it hasn’t been successful. There’s been no take-up by the GPs in signing up patients, it’s been an absolute mess.

“I hate to blame our doctor colleagues but you have to point the finger somewhere,” he said.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt, in conjunction with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, has now announced a series of interprofessional support workshops centred in the Primary Health Networks (PHNs) currently participating in the Health Care Homes Trial. 

Minister Hunt says these workshops, to be conducted throughout October and November, will provide support to the community pharmacies within these regions for the delivery of the Community Pharmacy in Health Care Homes Trial Program.

They will also highlight the integration process and patient benefits of the trial program to General Practice and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) participating in the broader Health Care Homes trial, along with providing a valuable networking opportunity among the professions.

“Community pharmacies are being presented with the opportunity through the Community Pharmacy in Health Care Homes Trial Program to work collaboratively with general practices to deliver integrated medication management for high needs patients,” said Minister Hunt.

“This is a key part of the 2017 Pharmacy Compact agreed between the Pharmacy Guild and the Australian Government.”

“The Guild is working with the government and key stakeholders to support this inter-professional collaboration between GP practices, ACCHS and community pharmacy to ensure this important patient-centred care model is utilised and built on for the future,” said Mr Tambassis of the announcement.

The Community Pharmacy in Health Care Homes Trial Program “helps support patients participating in the Health Care Homes trial by offering them a range of patient-centred, coordinated medication management services tailored to their needs, delivered by their pharmacy of choice,” reads a Department of Health fact sheet on the program.

In addition to the workshops, a series of online training modules to support community pharmacies and their staff are being developed by Guild Learning and Development and the PSA, with the PSA also developing official guidelines for pharmacists participating in the trial program.

The community pharmacy trial regions will be sent an invitation to attend the workshops, however more information is available on the 6CPA website under the Medication Management Programs section, or call the 6CPA helpline on 1300 555 262, or email healthcarehomes@6cpa.com.au. See the trial program rules here.

While participation in the trial program is available to all pharmacies that comply with the program rules, the Guild points out that since the Health Care Homes trial is only occurring in 10 of the 26 PHNs, it is more likely that pharmacies in – or close to the boundaries of – those PHNs will receive patient invitations.

If and when the community pharmacy trial program rolls out, enrolled patients will be placed into one of three risk tiers.

Consistent with the Health Care Homes model, participating pharmacies will receive payment for medication management services that they deliver based on that patient’s risk tier.

The total value of these payments by tier are as follows:

Patient Tier

Payment (maximum)

Tier 3 (highest need/most complex patient)

$1,642.75

Tier 2

$1,372.75

Tier 1

$418.75

Payments will be provided to pharmacies in four instalments: one instalment following completion of the patient’s initial consultation, and three subsequent instalments after the patient’s follow-up appointments.

The Health Care Homes stage one trial commenced in ten regions around Australia on 1 October 2017, and will conclude on 30 November 2019.

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