As health professionals, there are many steps we can take to be more patient-centered, which to me means putting the patient’s safety first. At the end of the day, if the patient is not taking their medicines correctly or safely, they are not going to get the optimum therapeutic outcome. Therefore, it is important that health professionals work collaboratively within a dynamic healthcare system.
Pharmacists are often the forgotten member of the healthcare team. Yet no one knows more about medicines than Pharmacists. For most patients, medicines pose a problem for them. Whether it’s polypharmacy, lack of education around possible side effects, or patient confusion around the role and purpose of each of their medicines. In addition, medication non-adherence is the biggest fixable problem in healthcare today. It poses a massive financial burden on various stakeholders such as insurers, employers and the tax-paying public. Pharmacists have the knowledge, experience and expertise that can complement that of a Doctors’ to help address some of these inefficiencies.
Pharmacists should be integrated into multidisciplinary teams as a General Practice Pharmacist or in hospital teams for example. A 2014 systematic review of 38 RCTs demonstrated that pharmacist interventions in general practice have been associated with improvements in patient asthma symptom scores and asthma related hospitalisations; and reductions in BP, HbA1C% and cholesterol levels1. What’s more, a 2012 RCT of partnered pharmacist charting at The Alfred Hospital showcased significant reduction in both inpatient medication errors and length of stay2.
Pharmacists can support general practitioners and liaise with services post discharge to help meet the increasingly complex health needs of older people and people living with chronic conditions. By providing the right mix of qualified health professionals in the right place at the right time, we can optimise delivery of high quality health care that all Australians are entitled to.
During my pharmacy internship this year, I have been able to reflect on the hierarchy within the healthcare team. While doctors can be perceived to take on more of a leadership role, I strongly believe everyone must be enabled to contribute and individual contributions need to be valued. Trust is one of the most important elements of a successful team too. This can be difficult to maintain with rotating staff schedules and constantly changing teams hence I think it is important for each healthcare professional to communicate a clear purpose for their role and have a strategy in place for accountability and discipline.
My internship has given me great insight into the roles and responsibilities of pharmacists in an interprofessional setting; highlighting numerous avenues through which health professionals can work together. The next step is to create and develop a mutual feeling of respect.
Pharmacists have traditionally hidden behind the counter but it is now time for us to get into the game and promote ourselves from supporting role to starring role.
It is our collective responsibility to transform healthcare as a team. In this way we can achieve the goal we are all striving for: optimal patient care and safety.
Thank you Dr. Shah for inspiring this blog with your TED Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajmT93H2RpA.
Thank you Dr. Kean-Seng Lim for your presentation at PSA19
Tan EC, Steward K, Elliott RA, George J. Pharmacist services provided in general practice clinics: a systematic review and meta-analysis. RSAP, 2014;10(4):608-22.
Tong EY, Roman C, Mitra B, Yip G, Gibbs H, Newnham H, Smit DP, Galbraith K, Dooley MJ. Partnered pharmacist charting on admission in the general medical and emergency short-stay unit - a cluster-randomised controlled trial in patients with complex medication regimens. JCPT, 2016;41:414-418.
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