Pharmacists and doctors in rural Victoria are set to come together to help manage patients’ chronic illnesses
The Victorian Government has announced the launch of the Pharmacist Chronic Disease Management Pilot, which will see eligible patients in four locations in the state’s north visit their local pharmacy to monitor and manage chronic conditions.
Working under a care plan developed by the GP, pharmacists will provide regular monitoring, dose refinement, earlier intervention and prompt referral back to the GP when necessary.
The program is aimed at reducing the current burden on doctors. More than half of all visits to GPs currently involve the management of at least one chronic condition.
Cinoj Thomas, of the Alexandra Community Pharmacy, says that locals often find it difficult to access a GP visit in a timely fashion.
The pharmacy will be working with the Alexandra Medical Centre as part of the pilot.
“Alexandra is a small country town, so we get lots of people with chronic conditions like asthma, high blood pressure and high cholesterol,” Mr Thomas told the AJP.
“We thought that if we can do something different, do something better than the way we’re doing it now, we want to do that so we applied for the program and were accepted. And we’re very happy.”
He says that he’s looking forward to sitting down with eligible patients at least once a month.
“We’ll sit with them, talk about their medicines, and if there’s anything that worries us about them we can send them to the doctor.”
Mr Thomas says the pilot is a good example of how doctors and pharmacists can work together to improve patient outcomes; the pharmacy and medical centre already have a good working relationship, he says.
Minister for Health Jill Hennessy today announced the four pilot sites as:
- Alexandra – Alexandra Medical Centre with Alexandra Community Pharmacy
- Kerang – Gannawarra Family Clinic with Terry White Chemist Kerang
- Kilmore – Stepping Stones Medical Centre with Amcal Pharmacy Kilmore
- Whittlesea – Whittlesea Medical Centre with Whittlesea Amcal Pharmacy
“Chronic disease is a huge burden on our communities – more than half of patients at a GP are there because of a chronic condition,” Ms Hennessy says.
“We want patients to be able to look to their trusted and skilled pharmacists for routine queries, so we can take the pressure off doctors and medical clinics.
“It makes sense and still gives patients the personalised health care and expertise they deserve at every step of their journey.”
Initially only three sites were expected to be named, but this was increased to four based on strong interest from both GPs and pharmacies.
The pilot, which is expected to begin in September, follows other initiatives by the Victorian Government to more fully utilise the state’s pharmacies, such as the 24-hour Supercare pharmacy project.