NACCHO has advised on several recent changes to improve how ACCHO clients can receive medicines reviews
In a COVID-19 NACCHO Medicines and Pharmacy Update, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation has outlined changes made in the last few weeks, which include enabling telehealth delivery of medicines reviews, funding pharmacist follow-ups after the initial review, increasing the number of Home Medicine Reviews (HMRs) pharmacists can do, updating medicines review guidelines and broadening who can initiate a medicines review.
It explains the new availability of telehealth medicines reviews – HMRs, RMMRs and MedsChecks – for patients who meet criteria as being vulnerable to COVID-19, such as people with a chronic disease or Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people aged over 50.
This is a temporary measure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We receive feedback from our ACCHO members from time to time regarding medicines and COVID-19 and so we were looking to create a way to communicate with ACCHOs and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector more generally,” said Mike Stephens, director, medicines policy and programs.
“We now provide online updates that are responding to the issues raised by our members, including the range of recent changes to medicines management review programs.
“ACCHOs have diverse and unique models of care that sometimes necessitate flexibility in pharmacist services. Some of the changes enacted by governments and pharmacy stakeholders to allow more tailored service delivery has the potential to improve workflow and integration between pharmacists and ACCHOs.
“For example, the subsidy of HMR follow-ups when required is certainly supported by ACCHO feedback and research that has been conducted in recent years.
“Ongoing consultation with NACCHO in relation to these developments, such as the advising on the ‘Guidelines for comprehensive medication management reviews’, is essential to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medicines-related needs and priorities are met.”
NACCHO also highlights that the monthly cap on individual pharmacists providing HMRs has been lifted from 20 to 30.
“This should allow more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients to access HMRs, where limited access to accredited pharmacists has been a barrier,” it says.
“The measure may improve the longer-term viability for accredited pharmacists to work with ACCHOs and travel to rural or remote areas to conduct face to face medicines reviews.”
It also refers to the PSA’s recently updated guidelines that outline best practice for pharmacists providing comprehensive medicines reviews.
As well as discussing follow-up services and referrals for HMRs and RMMRs by non-GP medical practitioners, the update highlights that MBS item 900 is not available via telehealth.
“Currently the MBS item 900 allowing primary care services to claim a payment for HMRs (in addition to the pharmacist payment) is not listed on the COVID-19 telehealth list,” it says.
“NACCHO continues to seek an amendment to this measure to allow GPs to be able to claim MBS item 900 via telehealth during the COVID-19 crisis to enable continuation of this essential service.
“HMR referrals to pharmacists are valid for 3 months and there is no fixed time limit on the GP follow up period. ACCHOs may consider how time spent following up an HMR via telehealth may be claimable under other MBS telehealth consultations, in cases where item 900 cannot be claimed.”