New trial to investigate GP-pharmacist collaboration


Christopher Freeman

Research team will be trialling non-dispensing pharmacists embedded within 14 medical centres

Principal investigator Dr Chris Freeman, from the University of Queensland’s School of Pharmacy, has launched a new trial to investigate whether having pharmacists working alongside GPs could reduce medication-related problems that lead to hospital admission.

“In Australian hospitals, up to 45% of patients discharged from medical units and 61% from geriatric units have an unplanned readmission within a year,” says Dr Freeman, who is a Consultant Practice Pharmacist at Camp Hill Healthcare Medical Centre in Queensland.

“One of the main groups of people at high risk of readmission include those taking multiple medicines. Many of the medication-related problems encountered are preventable.”

Medications account for more than 230,000 admissions to Australian hospitals each year with an estimated cost of $1.2 billion, say the researchers.

Dr Freeman and his research team are therefore trialling pharmacists within 14 medical centres across the greater Brisbane area, to see whether they will improve the flow of medicines information between hospitals and caregivers and ensure treatment plans remain appropriate to the patient.

Through the REMAIN HOME project – which stands for ‘Reducing Medicines Admissions Into Hospital through Optimising Medicines’ – non-dispensing pharmacists will be able to help patients negotiate changes to their dosage and assist in stopping and starting different medicines, as well as follow-up blood tests.

“The pharmacists in the trial will perform a comprehensive review to identify any medication-related problems,” Dr Freeman says.

“They’ll assess medication adherence, review the patient medication discharge letter, and discuss any changes made to medication during hospital admission with the patient. The pharmacists will then update medical centre records and inform community pharmacies of the changes,” he says.

“After consultation, the patient will see their usual GP to receive any necessary new prescriptions and to consider any changes suggested by the embedded pharmacist.”

The research project is funded by the HCF Research Foundation and Brisbane South PHN and Brisbane North PHN.

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