Community Pharmacy and the Path to ‘Optimal Care’
A report published in the Medical Journal of Australia today confirms the potential for community pharmacies to make a significant contribution to reducing the cost of unnecessary hospitalisations.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of South Australia and the BUPA Health Foundation shows that as many as one in four older hospital patients could have avoided admission had their medication and health risks been better managed.
The researchers concluded that a quarter of hospital admissions were preceded by ‘sub-optimal care’, with up to $300 million being spent per year to treat elderly patients who were not on the correct drug regime.
This new report builds on the strong evidence that adverse medicine events account for thousands of hospital admissions per year. It is also well established that medication adherence rates in Australia are low, averaging only 50-65%. This leads to poor outcomes, hospitalisations, and increased health care costs.
As the most accessible of health care destinations, pharmacies are very often the first port of call for patients seeking medication.
The acting National President of the Pharmacy Guild, Tim Logan, said: “There is ample evidence that a relatively modest investment in the quality use of medicines would significantly reduce unnecessary hospital stays and premature aged care facility admissions.
“Pharmacists already deliver medicine management services, including Meds Checks, Home Medicine Reviews, and Dose Administration Aids. Clinical interventions relating to minor and more serious conditions and situations are standard practice for community pharmacists,” Mr. Logan said.
However, there is a need for better coordination and collaboration across the acute and primary care system, with general practitioners and other health care providers.
A comprehensive community pharmacy program addressing prescribing, adherence and compliance issues would provide the full value of the community’s investment in PBS medicines.
Programs specifically addressing medication management issues in relation to hospital admissions, and medication management post-discharge from hospital are key potential areas of development under the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement pharmacy trial program.