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Pharmacist reforms provide cost-effective healthcare: PSA

09 February, 2016

Integrating pharmacists into general practice clinics and better utilising the role of pharmacists in healthcare reform are cost-effective, sustainable solutions the Federal Government should consider for its May Budget, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) said on 8 February 2016.

These key health reforms as well as introducing a national real-time recording and reporting system for medicines are part of the PSA’s 2016-17 pre-Budget submission, highlighting the important role pharmacists can play in national healthcare reform.

PSA National President Joe Demarte said pharmacists are highly-qualified health professionals however their skills, knowledge and expertise often go under-recognised and under-utilised.

"The PSA is calling on the Federal Government to consider how existing health resources can be better coordinated and targeted within a collaborative primary healthcare model to improve health outcomes for all Australians," Demarte said.

"As a result, the PSA has recommended having pharmacists co-located in general practice clinics to deliver a range of interventions and achieve improved health outcomes and quality use of medicines."

Demarte said this value-adding concept has been endorsed by medical leaders, including the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

In its 2016-17 pre-Budget submission, the AMA also called for pharmacists in general practice through the establishment of a funding model structured similar to existing incentive payments provided for nurses in general practice.

"We welcome support from the medical profession and urge the Government to consider the implementation of this model of practice as an election-year Budget priority in its reform of the primary care system," Demarte said.

Demarte said as part of an integrated approach to healthcare, the Government must also prioritise the continued development and innovation of the pharmacy workforce through funding training opportunities in non-traditional settings and the provision of eHealth incentives.

"Investment by the Government in such initiatives would be offset by reductions in chronic disease expenditure and reduced hospitalisations for the population of Australians beset by the poorest health outcomes," Demarte said.

Another key reform recommended by the PSA includes the need for better use of digital health and innovation in the health sector to deliver integrated care.

Demarte said the Government must urgently consider a national real-time reporting and reporting system to reduce harms and deaths associated with poor coordination of care and inappropriate prescribing of medicines.

"The PSA believes it should be a high priority for the Government to implement a national real-time recording and reporting system that captures all prescribing, dispensing and supply of prescription and over-the-counter drugs of dependence," Demarte said.

Demarte said there were many positive outcomes from optimising the contribution of pharmacists in Australia, especially within a collaborative healthcare framework.

"There is great potential to positively impact the health outcomes and quality of lives of all Australians, while reducing costs. Pharmacists are critical to the Government’s efforts to achieve sustainable, efficient and quality healthcare."

To read the PSA’s 2016-17 pre-Budget submission: The role of pharmacists in Australian Health Reform – Improving health outcomes through cost-effective primary care, visit www.psa.org.au/submissions/psa-pre-budget-submission-2016-17

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