Trial new roles for pharmacists, PSA urges

pharmacy staff

The PSA has released its pre-Budget submission, stressing the importance of pharmacists within Health Care Homes and general practice

Incorporating pharmacists in the Health Care Homes initiative, and implementing a large-scale trial integrating pharmacists in GP clinics, are cost-effective solutions the Government needs to consider in the 2017-18 Budget, PSA says.

In its 2017-18 pre-Budget submission PSA also called for pharmacists to become digital health champions, optimise medication management and encourage uptake of e-health records.

PSA National President Joe Demarte says pharmacists are highly accessible and qualified health professionals in Australia but their skills, knowledge and expertise are often under-utilised.

“There’s a significant opportunity for the Government to further optimise the contribution of pharmacists to improve healthcare and reduce costs in Australia’s health system,” Mr Demarte says.

Through the HCH initiative, Mr Demarte says pharmacists are best placed to provide medication management, high-quality medicines advice and education to consumers, particularly those with chronic and complex conditions.

“Including a pharmacist in the HCH team has the potential to reduce polypharmacy, as well as preventable medication-related hospital admissions and readmissions,” Mr Demarte says. 

“Without a pharmacist in the HCH team, Australia lags behind other countries in terms of evidence-based models of care for consumers with chronic and complex conditions.”

PSA also called on the Government to fund a large-scale implementation trial integrating pharmacists in general practice, to determine the best approach for an evidence-based model in Australia and the value of this model to the health system.

“In Australia, the GP-pharmacist concept has been endorsed by leading medical organisations, acknowledging the value pharmacists add to the primary healthcare team. However the growth of this model has been limited to a small number of practices due to the absence of funding,” Mr Demarte says.

PSA has urged the Government to reform funding arrangements to optimise the roles of pharmacists in rural and remote areas to reduce the burden on hospitals and other medical professionals.

“In regional areas, there are often greater hospitalisations as lower levels of primary care force consumers to go to hospital for minor medical conditions that can be treated in a more appropriate setting,” Mr Demarte says.

He says that to reduce these presentations and provide access to safe and effective primary care for minor ailments, PSA has proposed the adoption of a Minor Ailment Scheme.

“The success of this cost-saving strategy has been demonstrated in the UK and Canada as an affordable and rapidly implementable solution,” Mr Demarte says.

PSA also urged the Government to allocate funding to develop quality indicators to measure health outcomes for pharmacist practice.

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