Mental health on check thanks to digital support
Nick Logan Pharmacist Advice in Sydney has not rested on its laurels since being named the Guild’s Pharmacy of the Year in 2009, and has been developing and evolving its targeted model of care for mental health patients.
Proprietor Nick Logan says that working with mental health services in the area has helped to consolidate the pharmacy’s position as a centre for provision of targeted and effective mental health services.
The pharmacy had a high number of mental health patients as customers and this was very rewarding.
“I find it really satisfying that we can help someone so much,” he said.
“These patients have a right to a productive and enjoyable life but the Government hasn’t gone near to what it should be spending on mental health and a digital solution, a carefully designed one, would be an outstanding innovation.”
The digital solution is Mr Logan’s vision for the future.
“My fantasy for mental health is that it will all become digitally managed because there are still way too many paper meds charts and faxes and poorly handwritten notes at the moment,” he said.
“It doesn’t make sense that there is no digital hub where a psych registrar can make a dose change, including its justification, and it gets sent immediately and 100 per cent accurately to whoever has consented access. That might include the GP, the pharmacist, the carer and the patient all getting a notification. This is especially relevant to any pharmacist who is blister packing the medications.
“I still fantasise about the blister packs that we manage being subject to instantaneous digital, clinical decisions rather than the present system. There is room for a lot of improvement.”
Mr Logan said such a system would go above and beyond My Health Record because My Health Record was reactive and his vision was more proactive.
In the meantime, the pharmacy has developed its own rigorous system.
“At the pharmacy we have our own spreadsheets which we do a meds chart with and we use them for checking off our blister packs,” he said.
“That’s what we go by and when a hospital rings us and asks what current medication a patient is on we can tell or fax them a full list with the brand, the generic, the dose, the time of day to take the medications and so on. The hospitals love it and it is so useful – but all this could be electronically delivered.”
Mr Logan said the pharmacy was a well-known centre for delivery of mental health services.
“Recently in just one morning I have had three really serious consultations with patients about taking SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors),” he said.
“The patients came in and were worried about side effects and the long-term effects of taking these medicines.
“They wanted to sit down and discuss the implications and the ramifications of taking SSRIs and also to have us reinforce their doctor’s choices. These have been one-on-one consultations with people about anxiety and depression, and of course their medications.
“I love the fact that people are embracing us as somewhere they can go to get advice and I think there are really big opportunities for pharmacists to help people with mental health issues get the best out of their medicine.
“People always ask me what people did before SSRIs and the reality is that many didn’t have effective lives.
“There are good pharmacological options to appropriately help people who need it and I believe there are great opportunities for pharmacies to engage with these patients, invite their feedback and encourage them to be adherent and get the best out of their medicines.”
Think your pharmacy is up to the Pharmacy of the Year challenge? The 2019 Guild Pharmacy of the Year competition marks the 20th year the Guild has been celebrating excellence in pharmacy practice. If your pharmacy has what it takes to be our next champion, enter online at pharmacyoftheyear.com.au.