MBS access on the way?

Pharmacists having access to MBS items may be a step closer, PSA national president Dr Shane Jackson has hinted

Speaking at the opening session of ConPharm 2018, the Annual Consultant Pharmacy Seminar, Dr Jackson highlighted three areas of opportunity for accredited pharmacists – one of which is MBS access.

“Only three weeks ago I wrote to the chair of the MBS Review Taskforce, Professor Bruce Robinson, and highlighted again the glaring disparity where pharmacists are not able to be included on the list of allied health professionals who can deliver services to patients under the chronic disease management items,” Dr Jackson told the conference.

“I’ve received correspondence back from Professor Robinson highlighting that the inclusion of pharmacists will be included as part of the review to be conducted in the second half of this year.

“So I’m really positive that we’ll have an opportunity not only to be delivering services within the general practice environment in the future, but to be able to deliver MBS item services in multiple settings, whether that being on the high street, whether that be in community pharmacy, or whether that be in a general practice in the future.

“I think that there is great opportunity in that area.” 

MBS access and two other key areas clinical pharmacists need to be aware of will transform practice over the next year or two, Dr Jackson said. 

The first of these is the My Health Record, which will bring a range of health information to the fingertips of health professionals – “and that includes accredited pharmacists”.

“I know that some accredited pharmacists have struggled to register with the system – I’m assured by the Digital Health Agency from 1 July 2018, that the process for accredited pharmacists will be much more streamlined, and user-friendly, in signing up for the My Health Record system.”

Dr Jackson also highlighted the Workforce Incentive Program, which for the first time means “significant investment outside of the Community Pharmacy Agreement in pharmacists”.

The program allows general practice to employ a pharmacist to deliver services, from 1 July 2019, in what Dr Jackson called a “massive opportunity” for the profession.

“The skillset of accredited pharmacists are ideal to be able to be working within that environment.”

Dr Jackson pointed out that there has been significant consultation around the Society’s 10-year plan, which PSA will release at PSA18.

“What’s come back as a result of the consultation from members, and also from other people in the profession, is funding limitations. I know a lot of you are aware and certainly concerned about the limits that are put on professional programs, and certainly the Society is focused on that as well. We need to make sure that we do have appropriate funding for the evidence-based programs that we know work.

“And we know that Home Medicines Reviews, we know that Residential Medication Management Reviews, when done to a quality standard, actually have a positive impact in practice.

“That’s certainly what we’re talking to the Government about and we’re certainly focused on that for sure, that we have the appropriate investment in those programs in the future.”

Further feedback has shown that “pharmacists want a suite of services to be able to deliver, from dispensing through to comprehensive medication review. And we want to be able to have quality and integrity in regards to all of the services that we deliver”.

Joe O’Malley, outgoing chair of AACP, highlighted this week’s announcement by the Health Minister that the DAA program would be expanded, saying that “it would have been nice to have something additional announced today, but we don’t”.

“We’re optimistic that funding for the important medication management programs will continue, and that accredited pharmacists will be supported by their endeavours.”

He said it has come to the AACP’s attention that some associated are experiencing “excessive delays” in payment for the provision of their services, and encouraged those pharmacists, if they are experiencing hardship as a result, to approach AACP for assistance.

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