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Pharmacist Reforms to Deliver Quality, Cost-Effective Healthcare

Implementing a large-scale trial to integrate pharmacists in general practice and developing a pharmacist-delivered Minor Ailments Service (MAS) in community pharmacies are key healthcare reforms the Federal Government should consider in the 2018-19 Budget, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) said today.

As the peak national body for all pharmacists, PSA outlined these primary care reforms in its 2018-19 pre-Budget submission as well as called for pharmacists to help improve mental health care and be “prominently” engaged with digital health and My Health Record to improve consumer health outcomes.

PSA National President Dr Shane Jackson said there was a significant, cost-effective opportunity for the Government to further optimise the contribution and skills of pharmacists in Australia’s health system.

“As the most accessible healthcare professionals in Australia, pharmacists are ideally placed to provide medication management, high quality medicines advice and education to consumers, especially those with chronic and complex conditions,” Dr Jackson said.

“While pharmacists’ unique skills are often underutilised, there is an opportunity to ensure their skills are better utilised within the current health reform environment as part of collaborative models of care.”

Dr Jackson said the profession urged the Government to consider investing in a large-scale implementation trial of the pharmacists in general practice model to determine the best approach for implementing an evidence-based model in Australia.

“A systematic review recently found integrating pharmacists in GP clinics resulted in interventions that significantly improved blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, osteoporosis management and cardiovascular risk,” Dr Jackson said.

“Having effective interprofessional collaboration is critical to the future sustainability and efficiency of Australia’s health system.”

Another key reform recommended by PSA was allocating $5 million for a pilot of a structured and collaborative pharmacist-delivered MAS through community pharmacy.

“To evaluate the benefits of an MAS in Australia, PSA has called for a pilot of a pharmacist-delivered minor ailments program through community pharmacies in collaboration with local GPs. This would involve Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to target rural areas and areas with high numbers of emergency presentations for minor ailments,” Dr Jackson said.

PSA also advocated for pharmacists to be “comprehensively utilised” to assist mental health patientsand carers.

“PSA has proposed a pilot project to investigate a structured model for pharmacists in supporting the mental, physical, social and emotional wellbeing of people living with mental health conditions and to evaluate the effectiveness of such a model,” Dr Jackson said.

Another key reform outlined by PSA included conducting a review to ensure a more robust, effective and sustainable National Medicines Policy (NMP).

While PSA recognises the longevity of the NMP, Dr Jackson said it must be acknowledged that the pharmacist profession, along with the wider health sector, has changed significantly since the last NMP review in 1999.

“As part of the review, PSA recommends that the Government consider a consultation process engaging a wide range of stakeholders across the health sector.”

PSA also proposed the Government invest $1.2 million in a discrete project to develop quality indicators for pharmacist practice in Australia as well as continue to support pharmacists to engage with My Health Record to improve consumer health outcomes through medication management.

“Overall, by investing in pharmacist-delivered reforms, there is great potential to positively impact the health outcomes of all Australians, while reducing unnecessary health system expenditure,” Dr Jackson said.

“Pharmacists and the community pharmacy sector are critical to the Government’s efforts to achieving sustainable, efficient and quality healthcare.”

Read PSA’s 2018-19 pre-budget submission.

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