A Pharmacy Trial Program stakeholder consultation forum conducted in Canberra has seen stakeholders confirm support for the Pharmacy Trial Program.
Under the 6CPA, the Government committed $50 million over five years for a Pharmacy Trial program which will trial new and expanded community pharmacy programs.
These programs seek to improve clinical outcomes for consumers and extend the role of pharmacists in the delivery of primary healthcare services through community pharmacy.
The Guild says it is keen to work constructively with the Government and other stakeholders to ensure these trial programs deliver benefits to healthcare consumers.
Principles and priorities were set out at the forum:
- The Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement is clear about the intent of the Pharmacy Trial Program – The program is about trialling new or expanded community pharmacy programs or services that are delivered through community pharmacy.
- Community pharmacies can and want to help consumers to take greater responsibility in managing their chronic health conditions and ensure that they use their medicines correctly – and consumers want pharmacies to provide a wider range of health services. A recent Consumers Health Forum survey found that 7 in 10 consumers not only want pharmacies to do more but would personally support their local pharmacies providing more services.
- This is also consistent with findings by the PwC and Griffith University which found that 51% of patients would choose pharmacy in the first instance for advice on minor ailments or chronic conditions.
- Previous community pharmacy agreements (over the last 15 years) have invested in research and development to trial pharmacy services. This research has directly influenced policy and practice development in the pharmacy sector both in Australia and internationally. Rather than duplicate years of collaborative research and work that has been undertaken, the Pharmacy Trial Program needs to build on this investment by translating research findings into practice.
- The Agreement allocates up to $600 million of additional funding for new and expanded services to be delivered through community pharmacies – and there is existing evidence to support the introduction of services that target unmet health needs and gaps in service provision.
- The key outcome that the pharmacy trial program must seek to achieve is the delivery of targeted, services through community pharmacy that achieve improved health outcomes for patients.
- There are a core set of key principles that must be applied to the Pharmacy Trial Program:
- Services must be targeted to patients most in need with the least capacity to pay through well-defined patient eligibility criteria.
- Services must be relevant to patients and deliver a defined health outcome.
- All services that focus on the quality use of medicines must be delivered around a model that maintains the link to the supply of medicines by community pharmacies.
- All services must be underpinned by a quality framework to ensure safety and quality – currently, services delivered by community pharmacies are independently assessed and comply with the relevant Australian Standard (any future services or programs must continue to meet the same minimum standard).
- Services need to be designed to ensure integration and improved communication between pharmacy and other primary health care providers such as GPs.
- Services need to be recorded in a way that can be linked to an electronic patient health record.
- Services must be implemented in a way that is viable for community pharmacies to deliver.
- The Guild and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia jointly developed a number of proposals that were put forward as part of the 6th Agreement negotiation process. They are all evidence-based patient services that have been trialled in community pharmacy either in Australia or internationally, and they are all ideally suited to be implemented immediately under the trial program. They don’t require additional research, they just need to be implemented and evaluated in the Australian context. These programs focus on screening and early intervention and improved medication adherence, and include a Minor Ailments Program, Prescription Renewal, a Basic Health Check, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medicines Review, and an Anti-Coagulation Monitoring Service. We believe that these are the areas that should form the basis of the priority areas for funding. There is also a strong argument for a New Medicine Service to achieve improved adherence outcomes.
- The Guild supports a coordinated and collaborative approach to the design of these services which could be implemented from early next year. The implementation model could be based on the highly successful, and ‘co-designed’ QUMAX program which was implemented in the 4th Community Pharmacy Agreement using an Expert Advisory Panel comprising the Guild, Department of Health, the PSA, evaluation expertise, clinicians and consumers. The QUMAX program is an excellent example of a true partnership within the health sector that has seen vast improvements in both the access to medicines for patients, and the quality use of medicines by patients.
- The Guild strongly supports the Pharmacy Trial Program. It provides an excellent opportunity to deliver better and more cost-effective health outcomes to consumers by focusing on services that have a strong evidence base and can be readily implemented through community pharmacies in a way that drives greater collaboration across the wider health system