What’s in store for 2019?

2019 new year

More collaboration, more opportunities and a transformation into health hubs are on the cards for pharmacy as the decade draws to a close

In this week’s edition of Guild newsletter Forefront, NAB Senior Health Banking Manager – Pharmacy Michael Gregory spoke to the Pharmacy Guild about his predictions for 2019, which is likely to be a “year of change”.

NAB “sees community pharmacies increasingly transforming into health hubs which build on the trust and respect they have as community health practitioners,” Forefront predicts.

This model isn’t suitable for all, though, Mr Gregory says: “some are naturally more retail-focused and discount orientated”.

He outlined four major opportunities to watch out for in 2019, beginning with the potential to play a greater role in primary care.

“In 2019, for example, new regulations will permit many pharmacists to deliver a wider range of vaccinations such as influenza; MMR (mumps, measles and rubella); and DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis or whooping cough), depending on state legislation currently being rolled out.

“There may also be opportunities for pharmacists to play a more active role in other aspects of prevention, such as screening for certain diseases, risk assessments and point-of-care testing.”

Greater collaboration between pharmacists and other primary health care providers will be made possible with projects like My Health Record.

“This will make it easier for pharmacists to add value in several ways. The most obvious is helping Australians manage and understand their medication, which could result in improved levels of compliance and better outcomes,” Mr Gregory says.

“Collaboration with other health professionals could help pharmacists to monitor all of these medications and help their customers understand things like possible side effects and potential interactions. Digitisation could also open the door to more customer engagement.”

Data is also likely to play a growing role – with many NAB banking customers already “doing a great job” of collating and managing financial information and thus more able to respond flexibly to problems such as a slow-moving stock line.

Mr Gregory also says that some pharmacies are well on the way to becoming the kind of health hub suggested in the Guild’s CP2025 report.

“We are seeing an increasing number of local initiatives where pharmacies have identified and are servicing patients’ needs in areas such as pain management, wound care and gut health for example.

“As long as the pharmacy sector can demonstrate that it’s delivering evidence-based solutions and positive patient outcomes, I’d expect the government to continue to increase funding for these kinds of services.”

In his article in Forefront this week, Guild executive director David Quilty also outlined plans for the year ahead.

“This year is a very important one for community pharmacies and the patients they loyally serve,” Mr Quilty writes.

“The Federal election is likely to be held in May while the negotiation of the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement is due to commence in July.

“The Guild will be using these opportunities to actively remind political decision-makers and their advisers of the essential role of community pharmacies as trusted medicines experts and the most frequently accessed health destination with some 450 million pharmacy visits every year.

“Our message will be clear: investment in community pharmacy is an investment in better patient outcomes and a more cost-effective and efficiently run health system.”

He highlighted help in reducing unnecessary hospital and clinic visits, and increasing its medication management role, as two key areas for community pharmacies to focus on this year.

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