“The pharmacy industry is evolving quite a lot,” says Annabel Peach, Senior Pharmacy Assistant of Wilkinson’s Pharmacy. “It’s definitely becoming a closer network now. It’s becoming a more communal approach.”
The benefit of this is improved healthcare, something Annabel is passionate about. She works in Burnie, a port city on the north-west coast of Tasmania, where she sees first-hand the importance of the patient-centred approach to pharmacy. That’s also why she’s an advocate of My Health Record.
“Being in a community like we have here, you develop really good relationships with the customers that come in. And quite often they become reliant on you for help,” Annabel says. “With My Health Record we can provide them with a more holistic approach to healthcare.”
Records that travel with you
From her own personal experience, Annabel understands the benefit of having a centralised health record. Not long ago, she went mountain biking with her brother in Western Australia, and took a nasty fall.
An X-ray the next morning revealed an elbow fracture.
“They have an excellent hospital system in Western Australia, but it would have been really good to review thoseX-ray reports, or to have had a way to send them back to my GP,” Annabel says. “I had to upload them onto a CD and bring them with me to the fracture clinic.”
A single picture of health
My Health Record isn’t just for accidents though. Annabel says it will also improve safety in pharmacies, especially in the growing area of vaccination. While they mainly provide flu vaccinations, a recent meningococcal outbreak in Tasmania saw pharmacists provide vaccinations for specific strains in-store.
“My Health Record will be a great place to record this information, because people find it hard to remember the last vaccination they’ve had or when it was,” Annabel says. “Patients and other doctors will be able to review which vaccinations they’ve had.”
It will also improve oversight for medications.
“Today, you might have a particular drug, but it might have five different names with different branding,” Annabel says. “So it gets very confusing for a lot of people as to not only which brand they’ve had, but which drug they’ve having.”
It’s a similar case with vitamins and supplements – which many patients don’t realise can have an impact on their medications. Annabel says without a holistic overview of what a patient is taking, pharmacists can’t tell if there will be any adverse reactions to the combination of medicines and supplements.
“There are some quite regular medications that can stop working when combined with some vitamins,” she says. “Many people don’t realise this.”
“If we can see their record, we can even tell them where there might be a higher quality supplement that suits their needs and works better with their medication.”
Given how much pharmacy has evolved, Annabel says it’s important that systems supporting the practice evolves too.
“My Health Record brings things together for health professionals,” she says. “It will provide better care for you, better understanding from each health professional and better oversight into what’s happening with your personal health.”