Early evidence from a pilot study being conducted in western Sydney shows positive results
Western Sydney’s Primary Health Network (PHN), WentWest, has been collaborating with general practice groups across the region to trial the integration of pharmacists in general practice.
Launched early this year, the pilot study now has twelve general practice sites that have engaged a pharmacist, WentWest announced on Wednesday.
In the first 12 weeks of the study, five pharmacists across the general practice sites in western Sydney conducted 299 patient consultations.
As part of the project evaluation, researchers from the University of Technology in Sydney have found that the integration of a pharmacist was welcomed by most GPs as a positive addition to the general practice team, leading to improved patient care.
GPs stated that the professional relationship between pharmacist and GP developed over time as the impact of the pharmacist continued to grow.
Consultations were with patients who had been identified as potentially having medication or adherence issues, or needed support with the management of chronic diseases.
Across these 299 consultations, the five pharmacists detected 85 adverse drug reactions and 78 drug interactions, and updated 349 medication records.
The pharmacist consultations resulted in 807 recommendations to doctors and patients, including deprescribing, dose reductions or increases, and initiation of new medicines.
“Analysis of the data generated in the pilot study suggested that a close collaboration between medical practitioner and pharmacist improves patient care,” says a WentWest spokesperson.
“There is also an opportunity for more cost-effective use of health resources.”
Learnings from the pilot study have now been incorporated and the project has now been extended until the end of the year with further evaluation planned, they say.
Earlier this year, Brisbane GP Dr Justin Coleman spoke out in favour of pharmacist integration in general practice – and even created a video about it.
In his video, Dr Coleman explains the useful skills and knowledge that non-dispensing pharmacists provide to his own medical practice, from deprescribing to drug education.
The idea of pharmacists in general practice is “good for patients, good for doctors, good for the budget … general practice is a place for pharmacists to shine,” he says, and encourages pharmacists to consider joining a general practice team.
So far the few pharmacists who have entered this space, as well as the doctors who have them on their team, are loving it, says Dr Coleman – but “we need more”.