The head of the Australian Digital Health Agency has given pharmacists two examples of how My Health Record prevented serious adverse outcomes
Members of the PSA gathered at the Hotel Realm in Canberra on Wednesday, World Pharmacists Day.
This was one of a series of events held by the PSA to launch its My Health Record Guidelines for Pharmacists, which provide pharmacists with guidance on the use of the My Health Record system.
PSA national president Dr Chris Freeman called My Health Record a “gold nugget” for pharmacists due to its ability to facilitate communication with other health professionals, and introduced Tim Kelsey, chief executive of the Agency.
“I’ve got an instinct, a feeling that the 21st century is going to be the century of the pharmacist,” Mr Kelsey said.
He said the role of pharmacists will continue to become increasingly critical to the sustainability of high quality universal health care, with countries such as Indonesia and India now adopting this principle and turning to pharmacists to help.
He said there had been an “unbelievable energy” in the way pharmacists have embraced My Health Record.
When the opt out period ended in February, “empty shells” of My Health Records were created for all who had not opted out, ready to be activated when there is a clinical or consumer encounter.
Mr Kelsey said that to date, more than 11.5 million of these records have been activated – a rate the Agency had not anticipated. At the heart of this is the pharmacy profession, he said.
Bowral pharmacist Robert Shakeshaft had told Mr Kelsey that a patient’s daughter had told him that her father had been discharged from hospital – and all he could remember about the instructions given about his medication were not to take the “little red pill”.
Mr Shakeshaft was able to look up the patient’s My Health Record; the daughter did not have a discharge summary, but it was available on the MHR.
“Actually, it transpired that that discharge summary instructed or indicated to the patient that they should stop taking six further pills”. This allowed the pharmacist to reconcile the patient’s Webster-pack.
It was Mr Shakeshaft’s opinion that if the patient had not followed the instructions in the discharge summary, a negative outcome such as readmission to hospital would have occurred.
The second example took place in Perth, where a nurse told Mr Kelsey that a patient had presented at Emergency and collapsed at the triage, clearly in an overdose situation.
The staff looked up the MHR, but the man had protected it with a PIN he could not remember – so they exercised the “break glass” option.
A discharge summary from a different hospital showed the patient had been given a “surprisingly large dispense of beta blocking drugs,” and they surmised this was the drug he had overdosed on. This allowed appropriate treatment to take place.
“They are convinced he would have died had they not understood that fact.”
Meanwhile in Sydney, Emma McBride MP, Member for Dobell NSW, Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Shadow Assistant Minister for Carers, and a graduate of the University of Sydney School of Pharmacy, launched the Guidelines for Pharmacists at the University’s School of Pharmacy.
To the students and Early Career Pharmacists in the audience, Ms McBride said: “I want to encourage you to work to the full scope of your practice.
“There is so much that pharmacists have to offer in every healthcare setting. In future, I would like to see pharmacists embedded everywhere medicines are handled.
“While there are some pretty dominant voices contesting new roles for pharmacists…I want to encourage all pharmacists to be a strong voice.
“Be the person who steps and says this is what a pharmacist has to offer, this is what I can provide in this setting—it might be a community pharmacy, it might be a GP practice, it might be an aged care facility, it might be in some distant remote part of Australia, but be confident in the skills and expertise you have and be comfortable in stepping forward and saying this is what I can offer, this is what our profession can contribute.
“It is about patient care, and whilst we’re talking about patient care, we’ve got people’s attention.
“Sometimes things can be tough and there will be times, whether it’s as a student or a new graduate or at certain stages in your career where you encounter difficulties or some things that you might have to overcome.
“But always be guided by the fact that, as a pharmacist, you are there for the patient and it’s about the patient’s welfare and about our community health.”
Other speakers included Prof Peter Carroll (PSA NSW President), A/Prof Andrew McLachlan (Head of Pharmacy – University of Sydney), Amy Murray (Director of Pharmacy, Blacktown & Mt Druitt Hospitals) and representatives of the PSA NSW Early Career Pharmacist Working Group.
In addition to launching the Guidelines, four students were recognised as graduates of the Sydney Pharmacy Leaders Program: (from L-R) Samantha Lee, Emily Min, Rimmi Arora and Shumin Tan, with Peter Carroll, Emma McBride and Andrew McLachlan