Pharmacists will need to transform themselves if they are going to reach their full potential as primary healthcare providers.
That was the thrust of an APP2016 panel discussion that described pharmacy as one of the great under-used resources in modern health.
The panellists agreed that change could be daunting, but it was necessary for pharmacists to expand their offering into vaccinations and other services.
The six person panel, including visitors from the UK, Canada and the US as well as Guild representatives hammered home the innovation message, underpinned by successful trial examples, advice and cautionary tales.
Pam Price, the Guild executive in charge of transformation, gave the example of Kodak as a huge business which collapsed because it didn’t move with the market shift. She warned pharmacists to avoid the proverbial Kodak moment.
She said most patients would be prepared to pay more for a service if there is a compelling value proposition. But pharmacists had to be able to show that value.
But change did not need to be daunting and could start with baby steps, she said.
Carlo Berardi, chair of the Canadian Pharmacists Association, said: “The days of handing out prescriptions like hamburgers are done”.
He said pharmacists needed to be looking at expanding their scope of practice so they were offering “a complete health outcome rather than just a prescription”.
But he said there were many who found it difficult to change and were frightened of the process. But re-education to expand and add more services went beyond economics.
“The big thing about the expanded scope of practice is that it is just incredibly rewarding,” he said.
American Dr Paul Grundy, president of the Patient-Centred Primary Care Collaborative, said trials of patient-centric “medical home” models in the US had shown pharmacists to be one of the most valuable team members but also one of the most under-used.
Dr Grundy outlined several innovative re-imaginings of the pharmacist role.
In one pilot project local community pharmacists were contracted to go into a hospital to do medication records for congestive heart failure patients.
On discharge, the same pharmacist physically accompanied the patient to their home, went through their medications, disposing of those which were irrelevant or out of date, and was then responsible for the patient’s medication going forward.
Another trial changed the way GPs were paid for immunisation – being measured by the rate of immunisations at a community level rather than on the number of vaccinations given.
“All of a sudden they (the doctors) weren’t fighting with pharmacists about pharmacists giving flu shots, they were supporting (them),”he said.
Another trial took two cents out of every health care dollar and created the role of “community co-ordinator” which “wraps a plan around anyone with a chronic disease”.
That plan included patients being taken to their local pharmacy where the pharmacists explained their medications in detail about their medicine. Combined with a medicine reminder app, medication compliance increased by 12%.