Greater pharmacist role in Aboriginal health trialled

Pharmacy Trial Program

Pharmacist-led health interventions in Aboriginal communities came under the spotlight at PSA18 in Sydney yesterday, as delegates got early insight into some of the Pharmacy Trial Program (PTP) studies currently underway.

The 6CPA allocated $50 million to fund the program, aimed at gathering evidence to expand the role of pharmacy in delivering a wider range of primary healthcare services, with a particular focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

One trial currently in start-up is the Indigenous Medication Review Service Feasibility Study (IMeRSe), led by Griffith University’s Professor Amanda Wheeler.

‘The overall goal is to improve medication management and health and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through strengths-based collaborative and culturally appropriate pharmacy service,’ she said.

‘We know that medication reviews are funded but the research told us that for Indigenous people they have problems accessing medication reviews for many reasons. One of those is that talking to a pharmacist at a pharmacy or in their own home may not be a culturally safe space.’

‘That review service doesn’t involve anyone from the Aboriginal Health Service (AHS) – their trusted person who they work with and knows them so well. Only a GP may refer someone for a Home Medicines Review and that process may take several weeks.

‘They also tend to be a one-off and there is no ability for the pharmacist to check in in a funded way and see how things are going or tackle complex problems over a few months. There is also a lack of integration between pharmacists and Aboriginal Health Services.’

IMeRSe will involve up to 23 pharmacies across Queensland, the Northern Territory and New South Wales, and up to 540 AHS patients.

‘It’s a pharmacy service to promote health and wellbeing by optimising an individual’s medication management through a culturally responsive medication review service,’ Prof Wheeler said.

‘It will be delivered by community pharmacists but they are going to be integrated with Aboriginal Health Services as part of holistic care. We want to enhance existing services.’

With seven patients already recruited, the project is already gathering positive feedback, including from involved GPs.