Digital pharmacy key to medicine safety and efficacy

Tuesday, 30 July, 2019

Digital pharmacy key to medicine safety and efficacy

Electronic prescriptions and real-time prescription monitoring are among projects tipped to empower pharmacists to be more accountable and responsible for medicine safety and efficacy.

The findings are contained in the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) digital health report Connecting the dots: Digitally empowered pharmacists.

The report, funded by the Australian Digital Health Agency, said digital health initiatives and technological transformation would empower pharmacists to be more accountable and responsible for medicine safety and efficacy.

Australia’s health system was in the midst of a new wave of technological transformation, one that was connecting health information so that the information was accessible to patients, health professionals and carers at any time it was requested or needed for patient care.

“This transformation is long overdue,” the report said.

Key projects that would transform care included:

  • electronic prescriptions;
  • real-time prescription monitoring;
  • pharmacist input into My Health Record;
  • enhanced incident reporting capabilities, improving pharmacovigilance; and
  • improved medicine information for consumers.

PSA National President Dr Chris Freeman said the transformation to a more digital workplace was long overdue.

Medicine-related problems caused 250,000 hospital admissions and 400,000 emergency department presentations in Australia each year, costing the healthcare system $1.4 billion annually.

“Gaps in information and time delays in accessing important information are the two most significant factors contributing to medicine misadventure,” he said.

“This transformation will connect the dots of a currently fragmented health system, where health professionals such as pharmacists have had to make health decisions without accessing sometimes critical health information.”

The Australian Digital Health Agency’s program of work, particularly in medicine safety, would drive this transformation. The program of work strongly aligned with system changes needed to achieve the outcomes identified in the PSA’s Pharmacists in 2023 report.

Australian Digital Health Agency Chief Clinical Information Officer Angela Ryan said increasing the safe and quality use of medicines was a priority area of the National Digital Health Strategy, approved by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council in 2017.

“All healthcare providers, including pharmacists, GPs and specialists, play a role in supporting the safe use of medicines by their patients,” she said.

“The Australian Digital Health Agency is collaborating with governments and industry on digital solutions that will support healthcare providers to manage their patients’ medicines.”

The PSA said the Connecting the Dots: Digitally empowered pharmacists report provided multiple case examples that described a ‘new normal’ of seamless health care, protecting medicine safety, backed by the power of digital health.

These examples would help pharmacists understand the digital transformation that was taking place and contextualise them to real, tangible patient examples.

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