Solving a policy enigma

Successful integration into general practice and aged care will offer pharmacists autonomy and boost medications management, says a leading GP

The developing of the role of pharmacists working in general practice, aged care and hospital settings brought identifiable benefits for the health system, patients and pharmacists, says Professor Justin Beilby, Vice Chancellor of Torrens Univeristy, Adelaide.

Professor Beilby, who has a 30 year career as a GP and academic, was commenting on a study, reported recently in AJP, that recorded positive results for pharmacists working in the general practice setting.

He said these roles would provide more autonomy for pharmacists, as well as greater engagement in the healthcare team and personal interactions in a less constrained environment than usual.

In his editorial, entitled ‘The general practitioner and the pharmacist: a policy enigma?‘ Professor Beilby said; “successfully integrating pharmacists into general practice, aged care, and hospital services will allow more efficient identification, prevention, and management of medication-related problems, reduce polypharmacy, enhance the quality use of medicines, and avert re-admissions linked to inappropriate
medication use”.

“The logic and benefits of integrating suitably skilled pharmacists into general practice cannot be disputed. Their skills in post-hospital review, difficult medication regimens and their effect on disease states, quality use of medicine audits, face-to-face medication reviews, and independent prescribing complement those of the primary care team”.

Professor Beilby said “the benefits for the pharmacist are also clear: increased professional autonomy, meaningful engagement in a health care team, and personal interactions with patients in an environment less constrained than the pharmacy”.

Further, general-practice-based pharmacists have greater flexibility in timing the delivery of services, important to the modern professional workforce.

However, he noted that while Medical Benefits Schedule support for medication management reviews is useful, “further uptake by GPs and pharmacists seems unlikely in the context of current business models”.

“The Australian Medical Association has called for a Pharmacist in General Practice Incentive Program, and incorporating this model into the broader health system framework is worth exploring,” Professor Beilby said.

The editorial was published online first in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA)




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