What turf war? The future of pharmacist and GP cooperation
- On 12/09/2016
While much has been written about the so-called ‘turf war’ between pharmacists and GPs, the reality is both professional groups are playing for the same team.
What we need to recognise are the benefits of working together. The roles of the GP and the pharmacist are complementary, and all health professions must show greater responsiveness to changing patient needs.
Non-dispensing pharmacists within general practices as part of a GP-led multi-disciplinary team could play a valuable role in improving patient care.
The benefits of having pharmacists assist GPs with medication management include:
- Better coordination of patient care;
- Improved prescribing;
- Improved medication use;
- Reduced medication-related problems;
- Fewer ADEs;
- Fewer hospital admissions (from reduced ADEs);
- Improved health outcomes for patients, including a better quality of life.
Pharmacists are well placed to support general practice primary care for patients and their contribution will only be realised when they become well connected and integrated into primary care teams.
The problem to date has been funding such a model. The current fee-for-product pharmacy model is limited, and there is insufficient support for investment in primary care teams.
The AMA has proposed adapting existing models that have been accepted and shown to work in general practice, such as the introduction of a PGPIP that is structured in the same way as the existing incentive payments provided for nurses working in general practice.
A report commissioned by the AMA demonstrated that such a funding model would result in significant savings for the Australian health system.
The analysis conducted by Deloitte Access Economics indicated the savings would total $544.87m over four years.
The study estimated that around 3,100 general practices would take up the PGPIP and although it would cost the Federal Government $969.5 million over four years, this would be more than offset through broader savings to the health system in the following areas:
- Hospital savings of $1.266 billion – due to reduced number of hospital admissions following a severe ADE;
- PBS savings of $180.6 million – due to the reduced number of prescriptions from better prescribing and medication compliance;
- Individual savings of $49.8 million – reduced co-payments for medical consultations and medicines; and
- MBS savings of $18.1 million – due to reduced number of GP attendances following a moderate or severe ADE.