Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist January 2013 Contents Australian Pharmacist January 2013 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. 27
ACCREDITED PHARMACIST SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP
Medicare Locals --
they need you
By Trish Russell
Trish Russell is a PSA Professional
Practice Pharmacist and an accredited
pharmacist. She can be contacted at:
Sue Edwards is the pharmacy advisor at
South Adelaide-Fleurieu-Kangaroo Island
(SAFKI) Medicare Local in South Australia.
She believes pharmacists can contribute
to the future priorities for primary
healthcare in their region by getting
involved in their Medicare Local.
There used to be 140 Divisions of
General Practice with a membership
GPs. After primary healthcare reform,
the Divisions have evolved into
61 Medicare Locals.
As independent organisations,
each Medicare Local has different
governance structures and priorities.
At SAFKI Medicare Local only
organisations with a recognised role in
primary healthcare within their region
can be members. However individual
practitioners can register with SAFKI
Medicare Local to gain access to services,
resources and education, and contribute
to health service planning. A pharmacist is
on the organisation's board, and accredited
pharmacists are members of the leadership
advisory group and regional medication
advisory committees. Among the current
priorities for SAFKI Medicare Local are
mental health and aged care, both of great
relevance to accredited pharmacists.
Medicare Locals across Australia have a
shared aim of 'connecting health to meet
local needs'. The Australian Government
Department of Health and Ageing
provides core funding for work in a range
of primary health care areas including
aged care, Closing the Gap, eHealth,
mental health and practice nursing.
The programs offered by Medicare Locals
depend on regional population health
needs and when they began operating.
A common priority for many Medicare
Locals is the After Hours Project. Data is
being collected about which pharmacies
are open after hours and how they can
The PSA ACT Branch has received funding
from ACT Medicare Local (ACTML)
to develop an education program to
enhance access to after-hours primary
healthcare (See page 26).
Accredited pharmacist, Ben Wilkins,
was recently elected to the Board of
Hunter Medicare Local in NSW. He believes
pharmacists need to 'engage with Medicare
Locals or be left behind'. Pharmacists
provide primary health care, but we are not
good at telling other health professionals
what we do. He suggests we should be
building our image 'step by step at the
coalface by talking to our local health
professionals about HMRs, MedsCheck,
Patient Medication Profiles and Dose
Ben would like to see pharmacists join
their Medicare Local, get involved in the
programs they offer, understand the gaps
and identified needs in their region, and
deliver collaborative benefits under the ML
banner. This could include applications for
projects funding. For example, consumers
would benefit if their pharmacist provided
them with a current Patient Medication
Profile (PMP) which they could take to every
interaction with the healthcare system.
Pharmacists could get together and apply for
funding from a Medicare local for this type
of project to communicate and add value to
patient care and improved integration with
primary healthcare clinicians.
Accredited pharmacist Anne Todd is
employed by the Tasmania Medicare Local
(TML). She says the aim of Medicare Locals
is to improve primary healthcare and
'pharmacy has to be in the journey'.
Pharmacists, along with all AHPRA registered
health practitioners, are encouraged to join
as tier 2 members of TML. Tier 1 membership
is restricted to stakeholder organisations --
the PSA Tasmanian branch and the Pharmacy
Guild are both TML members.
Anne believes that some advantages
for pharmacists joining their Medicare
• being informed of local health programs
• becoming involved in the uptake of
eHealth and personally controlled
electronic health records (PCEHR)
• increased awareness by other health
professionals of pharmacist's role in
• and improved information flow between
Medicare locals have been urged to
focus on the social determinants of
health and develop strategies to reduce
TML is embarking on a project to map
the patient experience in primary care.
All interactions with members of the
healthcare team will be followed to see the
real experience of the patient. The impact of
health literacy and the social determinants of
health will be covered in the project.
Pharmacists practising in the community
setting often do so within the four walls of a
community pharmacy, limiting collaboration
and integration into the healthcare team.
Some accredited pharmacists work in
isolation. By joining their Medicare Local
pharmacists can connect with the primary
have a shared aim of
'connecting health to
meet local needs.'
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