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Chris Braithwaite
16 April 2018

Pharmacist, Chris Braithwaite has worked in a variety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health locations since graduating in 2012, including at Katherine in the Northern Territory, Mount Isa and Cape York in Queensland. He has been working at Galambila Aboriginal Health Service at Coffs Harbour in northern NSW – in Gumbaynggirr country – since October 2016 .

I was attracted by the opportunity take on the emerging role as a practice pharmacist working closely with GPs, Aboriginal Health Workers, nurses and other allied health professionals. Working with Aboriginal people is a unique and rewarding use of my skills.

My Health Record is particularly exciting for pharmacists as we have, for too long operated in an information poor silo and this will be a step in the right direction to close the loop and increase our capacity to deliver targeted care.

For patients, it will provide a platform for empowerment regarding their health and an accessible record for those Australian’s who find health literacy a challenge. This is really a priceless advance for the health system.

I have always been attracted by the concept behind My Health Record, but what’s really convincing are the case studies and examples I have heard where pharmacists and other health professionals have delivered more effective and efficient care. When these stories come to light, you can always recall a situation where having access to My Health Record would have made an enormous impact on the way you delivered care.

To me, this was especially relevant in Cape York, where the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community is particularly transient. My Health Record will be invaluable in these situations.

Galambila

At Galambila we aim to provide a culturally appropriate service to our local Aboriginal community. We have a range of clinics and services aiming to close the gap and keep our community healthy and living longer.

Galambila has six GPs and allied health services such as podiatry and been active in setting up My Health Records for patients and in uploading patient summaries.

My role is to provide linkages with community pharmacy, as well as actively enhancing our quality use of medication at a clinic level. I play an important role in the care of our clients as they transition through care settings by ensuring correct and appropriate medication usage.

It is an innovative role that adds value to the primary health care outcomes of our clients.

In my work at Galambila I find the dispensing record and medicines view particularly useful. When performing a Home Medicines Review (HMR), this helps me assess dispensing intervals and gives an indication of medication adherence.

A phone call to the community pharmacist is still useful and important for their insights given the regularity of contact with patients. However this saves a major aspect of the conversation as well as unnecessary paperwork.

I also find discharge summaries particularly useful in ensuring the patient’s transition back into community is smooth. This is especially pertinent when they are discharged from a non local hospital and it isn’t sent directly to us.

A simple, but powerful example was when an unknown patient presented to see the GP. The patient did not have strong recollection about their previous treatment. They were asking for prescriptions but couldn’t remember what it was they took, nor could they name a recent community pharmacy (only the town). We were unable to get in contact with their previous GP.

In the past, it would have taken me 30 minutes to obtain the information I need. However, they had an active My Health Record and I was able to quickly access this with the GP and we were able to provide the care the patient needed immediately.

I believe the potential for My Health Record is incredible, especially for patient safety in terms of medication management. As time goes on and the conformity with clinical software increases, having someone’s renal function at your fingertips when dispensing medicines such as rivaroxaban, for example will revolutionise the dispensing process in the community.

In the future I imagine it will be part of my daily practice and widely accepted by the public and health professionals as an incredibly useful tool for more effective and efficient care.