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NAPSA highlights the importance of bridging the “clear and contentious gap” in practice between healthcare professionals

NAPSA President, Shefali Parekh, sat down with Advanced Practice Pharmacist, Debbie Rigby, and Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) President, Rob Thomas to hear their thoughts.

Shefali: What are the benefits of a multi-disciplinary healthcare team?

Debbie: With ageing population and the complexity of medication management in patients with multiple chronic conditions, there is an imperative that all health professionals caring for a patient work collaboratively for optimal care. Medications are an integral part of care for people with chronic conditions.

Pharmacists need to take responsibility for medication management in collaboration with the consumer, their general practitioner and other health providers. We know points across the continuum, for example discharge from hospital, have high medication errors. Evidence suggests that 230,000 hospital admissions per year are medication-related and at least half are avoidable. New medicines are also a trigger point for multidisciplinary care, especially between prescribers and dispensers.

Collaborative Home Medication Reviews (HMRs) and Residential Medication Management Reviews (RMMRs) have really been the success story of professional programs in the Community Pharmacy Agreements (CPAs). They have been the only sustainable programs with high level evidence of impact and outcomes. And they are collaborative with GPs and other community carers. Chronic disease such as diabetes, asthma, COPD, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, gout etc can all be better managed in a multidisciplinary care team.

Rob: There are many benefits to a multi-disciplinary healthcare team. I think it’s the epitome of patient-centred care in many senses, and aligns all of the team’s goals towards what is best for the patient. In a system that requires many moving parts and specialists in different areas, multidisciplinary approaches can lead to cross-checking and ensure that the timeline of patient-care is optimised .

Shefali: How can/do pharmacists contribute to this team?

Debbie: Pharmacists can contribute significantly to better medication management as part of a multidisciplinary team. Regardless of the place of work e.g. community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, consultant pharmacists, pharmacists in general practice.

A good example is inhaler device technique and adherence. Evidence suggests both are poor and can be greatly improved through pharmacist interventions, support and care.

We need to shift the focus to patient-centred care rather than the technical act of dispensing.

The profession needs to acknowledge the benefits of pharmacists across the continuum of care, and work collaboratively within the profession; as well as with GPs and other health professionals.

Community pharmacists should use software as a patient record and not just a record for remuneration.

Community pharmacies and all pharmacists should embrace and be proactive with My Health Record and recognise the benefits to having access to a shared health summary, and discharge summaries. Pharmacists working in general practice will have access to the GP’s patient record – this is invaluable and critical to practising at the top of our skills and knowledge. Without this information, we are only guessing and not looking at the complete picture in order to make a clinical decision or judgement.

We need to forget the ‘internal competition’ within the profession, and be mature enough to recognise the emerging career pathways for pharmacists as part of the primary health care team.

We need leadership from individuals and organisations, and show respect to our colleagues and peers.

Rob: Pharmacists can offer advice regarding drug administration timing or interactions that a doctor may not have considered, and they can be really useful in complicated situations. Their added experience of the patient in a different setting can add to the picture of a patient, and in a community setting, pharmacists can be really useful in communication and are even a first port of call for some unwell people.

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NAPSA currently collaborates with other healthcare students via the Red25 Health Students Blood Challenge campaign initiative. We compete with the Australian Medical Students Association (AMSA), the Australian Dental Students’ Association (ADSA) and Student Paramedics Association (SPA) to make the most blood donations.

This example of students working together nationwide means it becomes more ‘normal’ when we are in the workforce. NAPSA believes this is paramount to reduce the increasing possibility of a dissenting future.

Shefali Parekh.A united multidisciplinary approach to healthcare not only means that professional relationships are strengthened, but also that the overall health outcomes of our patients is better than what is currently achieved. An environment where all healthcare professionals join together is the future and NAPSA stands by this future.

Shefali Parekh is the National President of the National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association.

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