Putting patients first through collaboration
As community hubs, pharmacies are vital in working with allied health to enhance patient services. Through working with other allied health professionals, patients can benefit from a range of skills and knowledge, enhancing patient care. Pharmacies can provide several health services by working with allied health.
According to Allied Health Professionals Australia, allied health is a new term without a universally accepted definition. However, core components of allied health do not belong to the medical, dental, or nursing practitioner but have a university degree or qualification that makes them specialised in various conditions and illnesses.1
A person’s health is multifaceted and requires input from various health professionals. For those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and COPD, many complications can arise that require input from multiple health professionals. A collaborative approach is necessary to ensure that patient health needs are met.
Professional Service Pharmacist Rebecca Miltiadou from Direct Chemist Outlet says building relationships with allied health is essential for patient care. “Engaging and building relationships with allied health professionals is significantly important.”
“Collaboration between a pharmacist and allied health professionals can significantly enhance patient care and health outcomes by allowing health care professionals to put together a care plan, optimise a patients’ medication and provide patient education,” Ms Miltiadou said.
Engaging with allied health
Ms Miltiadou says pharmacists can engage with allied health professionals in several ways – through medication reviews, care plan development, and sharing health records, pharmacists can play an active role in enhancing patient services.
Ms Miltiadou said: “Pharmacists can participate in medication reviews along with other healthcare professionals to ensure the patient’s treatment plans are aligned and address any potential medication-related issues.”
“Care plans can also be developed between a team of health care professionals which outline each professional’s contribution to that patient’s treatment and ongoing care.”
She added: “We can share documents and information through electronic health records such as My Health Record to ensure everyone is informed and can make informed decisions about the treatment for the patient.”
Pharmacists also play a significant role in education and awareness about the use of medications and how their medications help to manage their conditions. “We can also work together to provide education about their condition and medications, which includes lifestyle advice,” Ms Miltiadou said.
Ms Miltiadou shares why working with allied health was necessary for a patient with diabetes. Through collaborating with a podiatrist, Ms Miltiadou ensured the patient’s ailments were adequately managed, optimising care.
“I have collaborated closely with a podiatrist for one patient with diabetes and a history of foot ulcers. Working together ensured the patient got the most from their treatment, which involved wound care support, disease and medication management (including regular monitoring of BGC and medication adherence checks), and ensuring the patient had regular podiatrist check-ups.
“With regular contact with the patient’s doctor and assigning a diabetes educator, we were all able to develop a care plan to optimise the patient’s treatment and ensure they can manage their condition. A lot of the time when questioning patients, you find that diabetes medication management and compliance with podiatrist appointments are lacking.”
Allied Health Professionals Australia. ‘What is allied health?’.2023. com.au/what-is-allied-health/
This article was first published in Retail Pharmacy October, Health Series: Integrated Care