The importance of talking

Debra Rowett.
Debra Rowett.

Professor Debra Rowett has pointed out the need for interprofessional communication to help address a number of health issues

Speaking at the Emeritus Professor Lloyd Sansom, AO Distinguished Lecture series in Canberra last month, Prof Rowett said such communication was key in practice, policy and education.

It is also necessary to improve patient journeys and optimise outcomes from the use of medicines, the past Australian Pharmacy Council president said.

Internationally, health systems are moving to address challenges in providing effective and timely value-based care.

Team-based care is a vital component of this, she said.

“The increasing array of diagnostic tests, complexity of illnesses, multimorbidity, interventions and care options combined with the number of health carers and organisations involved can make it difficult for patients and providers of care to negotiate the health care system,” Prof Rowett said.

“The longitudinal care required for an ageing population and those living with chronic disease requires consideration of effective oral and technical communication between health care team members, their patients and their carers and families.

“Successful interprofessional communication cannot be left to chance. It is a skill that needs to have the same amount of investment as that of the effort we put into communication with our patients.”

As pointed out in the Australian Pharmacy Council’s Insights newsletter, Prof Rowett has spent significant time introducing interprofessional communication training into South Australia’s intern training program, as well as postgraduate programs at the University of Queensland.

This sort of training in interprofessional communication must become part of pharmacy education, she said.

“We need to prepare the pharmacists of tomorrow to not only be competent and the best in their field, but to be collectively competent – we need both for successful healthcare teams.”

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  1. Deirdre Criddle

    An important message from one of pharmacy’s visionary leaders. It’s time pharmacists were seen and heard – be it on ward rounds or embedded within multidisciplinary targeted teams both inside and outside hospitals. We must embrace every opportunity to spread the medicines management word and join with allied health, nurses and our medical colleagues to help patients and their families better navigate complex healthcare systems. Are you an integral part of your patient’s medical home? Do you know who your fellow team-members are and what their role is? To be a visible identifiable partner in our patient’s care will demand an understanding of all the players in a patient’s care team. As medical and medicines complexity grows, pharmacist’s skills are in demand from patients and our healthcare colleagues alike. Being part of the team is being part of the solution. Thank you Professor Rowett for lifting our vision to the horizons!

    • Red Pill

      Outside of hospitals! That’s PGA territory. If you’re not gonna get it done through the four walls of community pharmacy prepare to be blocked at every turn.

      • Deirdre Criddle

        Community pharmacists are part of the team. Teams that are increasingly defined by patient’s themselves, rather than buildings, organisations or professions that seek to define care within self-designated structures. Patients like being able to share their issues with those they view as important in their care. The walls that divide care are often not seen by our patients. Working with patients means exactly that – and should include respect for all those involved regardless of which territory they may inhabit.

        • Red Pill

          Even though you are correct that is not how things are done in Australia unfortunately. Suck up to PGA and maybe they’ll give you a small ration out of the next community pharmacy agreement for organising a communication platform with the doctor.
          Eventually the amount of time it will take a pharmacist to organise these things and claim for a payment will be not worthwhile and it will be just another lost opportunity.
          Just see how Medscheck and Clinical interventions turned out

  2. Peter Allen

    I’d love to get at least a dot point list of what is in her lectures to her students.

    Here’s one from me: “doctor as you probably know…” face saving is universal.

  3. Jarrod McMaugh

    “Successful interprofessional communication cannot be left to chance. It is a skill that needs to have the same amount of investment as that of the effort we put into communication with our patients.”


    It also requires a willingness from both sides to make interprofessional communication work.

    Unfortunately, there is a cultural block on one side, and a seeming unwillingness from many on the other to acknowledge or address this.

    Interprofessional communication will take a long time to find a foothold while disrespectful attitudes exist and are allowed to flourish

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