We must embrace change and lead new models of care

GP pharmacist

Since becoming National President, I have received significant levels of feedback in support of PSA’s development of pharmacists working in general practice.

I have also received many responses from individuals worried that the development of this role for pharmacists will damage the community pharmacy sector. I understand that fear and I want to allay these concerns.

I believe we can work together on the ideal models for pharmacists working in general practice, that provide complementary activities to those of a community pharmacist and that work together in collaboration with a community pharmacist.

I believe the Government’s commitment to allocate $30 million to the Health Care Homes (HCH) initiative provides a unique opportunity to trial a best-practice model of a pharmacist within general practice combined with an expanded role of community pharmacy in the care of a patient with chronic disease.

With this model, we have the opportunity to ensure robust and high-level partnerships between general practice and community pharmacy in the management of patients with chronic disease, as well as ensuring we utilise health funding in a manner that minimises or
removes duplication.

It’s understandable that at a time of unprecedented pressure on the viability of community pharmacy, the development of roles outside community pharmacy are seen as threats. PSA is firmly committed to the viability and sustainability of the community pharmacy network.

Along with general practices, these two key pieces of primary care infrastructure are holding the health of Australians together. A genuine focus on where pharmacists should be located for the best outcomes of the patient needs to occur.

Community pharmacies will need to embrace change and PSA will be a leader in this change. This change can be coordinated to bring the best parts of our community pharmacy network and enhance them for the future. It’s clear that the future of
community pharmacy programs lies in preventing hospital admissions and keeping patients well.

Structured management programs to support patients in the management of their medicines will need to be developed, and remuneration based on the complexity of the management of the patient will need to support this.

I also hear many community pharmacy owners who are concerned about activities outside of community pharmacy. This concern is born out of uncertainty of the long-term future of community pharmacy, and the concern that existing activities will be taken away from community pharmacy, or worse, that they will not be included in enhanced clinical services in the future.

Therefore, we need a coordinated approach. Primary care pharmacy activities need to be coordinated in a way that recognises a pharmacist expertise, and identifies what setting(s) are best to deliver them in.

PSA will protect community pharmacy, and our vision for the future has community pharmacies as integral and enhanced services providers.

My vision is of medicines management and primary care hubs in the community, that are remunerated in a way that promotes quality, removes fear from the equation about the future of the network. Anyone can ‘supply’ a medicine but only a pharmacist can ensure that supply equates to optimal outcomes.

As a pharmacy owner, I understand why some individuals and organisations fear pharmacists working outside of community pharmacies. However, pharmacists’ roles outside of community pharmacy will help keep pharmacies stronger and viable, not undermine them.

With enhanced roles for all pharmacists, community pharmacy will only reap enhanced opportunities from development of professional activities across the profession. The only thing we have to fear in this is fear itself.

I want to reassure pharmacy owners by developing pharmacists in general practice roles, that their own role can absolutely co-exist and will in fact thrive with pharmacists integrated in GP surgeries. Your colleagues in general practice are not a threat to what you do. They will be facilitators of what you do.

To learn more about pharmacists working in general practice, PSA is hosting the 2nd Pharmacists in General Practice Forum on 9 November 2017. This session will discuss current projects and trials, resources and support available for general practice pharmacists, recent evidence and how we can collaborate to progress this model nationally.

PSA also has information about the GP Pharmacist model as a new career pathway.