Why you are missing opportunities in patient intervention

By Mike da Gama, Director of NostraData

This is the first of a series of four articles on how to create proactive intervention within your practice.

There must be hundreds of pharmacies in Australia doing great things for their local community. But how do you scale up some of the creative solutions that these pharmacies are implementing? There are also plenty of advice channels and people telling pharmacies how to make their businesses better, but do these strategies actually work? What evidence do these solution sellers have to support their services? Sadly, there are also plenty of pharmacies simply doing nothing or worse, complaining about their predicament but doing little to change it. You may have tried some of these solutions yourself and either seen no result or little return for your effort.

There has been sustained and positive support in the research literature for community pharmacists to actively consult patients on their medication and to intervene when necessary for better health outcomes. Additionally, there are economic benefits for many of these interventions.

Unfortunately, community pharmacists are not primarily rewarded for delivering health care in many countries , including Australia, and this needs to change to fully realise the benefits supported by the research.

Given that chronic disease is the leading cause of death in Australia , , surely we should be doing more to raise awareness of the importance of the role of the community pharmacist in the ‘triangle of care’?

Nevertheless, in recent discussions with practising pharmacists there is a general feeling of dependency on others to ‘solve our problems’ and this has to end for Community Pharmacy to take a proactive role in the management and potential prevention of disease. As representative bodies for Pharmacy focus on self-preservation or maintaining relevance, where is the voice that cries out for strong leadership? Legislation won’t cause the demise of Community Pharmacy; apathy will.

There is a need to anticipate the Government’s next move in this space and alongside the predictable PBS reform agenda and pharmacy group consolidation, there is also the spectre of deregulation, practice pharmacists and the health care homes model. So rather than worry about what is already known, pharmacists should be designing and delivering services that make their pharmacy attractive to patients and create value that is hard to copy. This isn’t rocket science, as the tools are already available to diagnose your community and establish a focused service offering for your community that sets you apart.

Of course, if you’ve read this far you are probably wondering if I will offer you a solution. Not yet. More needs to be done to uncover the most practical, professional and pertinent services that can apply to your business. While you wait for next month’s article, conduct a service audit in your pharmacy – how many services are you currently doing? Which ones seem to be working? Which ones aren’t? Which ones do you think you should be doing? Next month, we’ll explore how to rationalise services and how to make patient interventions work.

Next month’s article: ‘How to make patient interventions work‘.

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