New program improving health care in Port Lincoln

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

A new program designed to improve health care in Port Lincoln has quickly demonstrated how integrating pharmacists into the primary care team improves treatment outcomes and reduces the risk of medication errors.

Funded by the Country SA PHN and delivered in partnership with PSA, the Port Lincoln Pharmacist in General Practice project kicked off just a few weeks before Christmas.

“Medicine is the most common way we treat health conditions in Australia,” PSA SA/NT Branch President, Robyn Johns said. “While medicines can be very good for us, unfortunately medication can also cause harm. PSA’s own research has found 250,000 Australians are hospitalised each year, with another 400,000 presenting to emergency departments, as a result of medication errors, inappropriate use, misadventure and interactions. At least half of these could have been prevented.

“PSA believes supporting pharmacists to spend more time in all health care settings is key to improving medicine safety and quality use of medicines. We commend Country SA PHN for initiating this program and working to incorporate pharmacists more comprehensively into the primary health care team.”

“Country SA PHN has been concerned about the preventable harm caused by medication mishaps in our communities. We are very pleased to fund and collaborate with the PSA to develop this program to help minimise these harms for our country South Australian communities,” said Country SA PHN Chief Executive Officer, Kim Hosking.

“Embedding pharmacists in our general practices is having a positive impact on the health of rural South Australians and can play an important role in minimising the number of medication-related hospital admissions.”

Kylie van Rooijen has been working one and a half days a week in the Boston Bay Family Health Clinic providing a range of services including medication reviews, advice and education, and liaison between the general practice, hospitals and community pharmacy.

“Boston Bay Family Health is an innovative practice which is always looking for ways to improve health care services in our community,” Ms van Rooijen revealed. “They have been very supportive of this project and welcomed me into the practice.

While the project is only in its early days. Ms van Rooijen believes the potential benefits are significant.

“A key point in the health care journey where medication problems can arise is the transition from hospital in Adelaide back to the community,” Ms van Rooijen explained. “I view my job as being a medication translator. By reconciling hospital discharge summaries with general practice health records and conducting patient consultations, I reduce the possibility of medication problems such as treatment courses not being completed or a person failing to restart taking a vital medication which they were taken off during their hospital stay.”

“Available medications and the guidelines for their use change frequently. Pharmacists need to stay up to date with these changes and in this role I can ensure the clinic’s general practitioners and registrars can easily and quickly access this information, giving them more time to spend in patient care and improving safe and quality use of medicines.

Training as a Diabetes Educator, Ms van Rooijen looks forward to expanding the support available to the clinic’s patients.

“Boston Bay is a General Practice with a significant interest in GP obstetrics and together we can offer increased advice and care to mother’s-to-be who have gestational diabetes,” Ms van Rooijen said.

With a career spanning 30 years, Ms van Rooijen believes this project will develop new ways to deliver health care that will attract and inspire future generations of pharmacists.

“I have loved working as a pharmacist, but my passion has definitely been reignited through my involvement in this project,” Ms van Rooijen said.

The Pharmacist in General Practice project is currently scheduled to run until June 2021.

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