General practice and pharmacy: creating the right community care for better patient outcomes

General practice and pharmacy: creating the right community care for better patient outcomes

25 February 2013

Medicare Locals are fostering new working partnerships between community pharmacies and general practices all aimed at delivering better quality health care for patients.

Australias primary health care sector has been reformed through the development of 61 Medicare Locals across Australia. Medicare Locals are regional primary care organisations connecting health services locally as well as identifying and addressing local health service gaps.

At this years Australian Pharmacy Professional 2013 conference (APP), the Australian Medicare Local Alliance (AML Alliance) and the Pharmacy Guild (The Guild) will showcase how general practice and community pharmacy are working together effectively at the local level.

A session on Medicare Locals and pharmacy, on Thursday afternoon 21 March, will discuss current innovations in community pharmacy that offer opportunities for Medicare Locals for improved patient care.

It will also canvass the mechanisms for Medicare Locals to connect with community pharmacy. Panel members consisting of prominent speakers involved in the Medicare Local landscape will comment on:
The role of Medicare Locals, membership models and the benefits of being a member
How community pharmacists are/can be involved with Medicare Locals
Models of community pharmacy engagement including innovative models of care using community pharmacy

As part of the session, delegates will have the opportunity to ask questions of the panel about Medicare Locals and community pharmacys role, as well as identifying any innovative care occurring in their region featuring community pharmacists and other health care professionals.

Pharmacists and general practitioners are already working well together in many locations. For example, under the Home Medicines Review (HMR) program, highly valued clinical services are being conducted in the patients home by the pharmacist on behalf of the GP. Also, in some instances pharmacists working in general practices have been providing advice to GPs on new medications; and working with patients to explain new medications and possible side effects.

Medicare Locals are positioned perfectly to cross-pollinate these two sectors to streamline health services and to bring about efficiencies that have been put in the too hard basket for too long, AML Alliance Chair, Dr Arn Sprogis said.

Medication misadventures alone are costly to the health dollar.
Between 10%-67% of medication histories have at least one error
Up to one third of these errors have the potential to cause patient harm
More than 50% of medication errors occur at transitions of care
Patients with one or more medicines missing from their discharge information are 2.3 times more likely to be re-admitted to hospital than those with correct information on discharge
85% of discrepancies in medication treatment originate from poor medication history taking (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care).
Adverse drug events (ADEs) are associated with 2.4%3.6% of admissions to Australian

By bringing general practice and pharmacy closer, the risk of the misuse of medications can be reduced and ultimately improve the health outcomes for patients, Dr Sprogis said.

The National President of the Pharmacy Guild, Kos Sclavos, said there was enormous potential for community pharmacies to add value to the work of Medicare Locals across Australia.

We want to make sure the role of pharmacies is fully utilised for the benefit of patients, Mr Sclavos said.

APP 2013 takes place at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre from 21-24 March.


Media contact:
Greg Turnbull, Director of Communications, Pharmacy Guild of Australia 0412 910 261
Karen Warner, Media & Communications Adviser, AML Alliance 0438 179 520