Pharmacists need to adapt for patients with multiple chronic illnesses

3 Oct, 2014


Pharmacy practice needs adapt to meet the challenges of an increased complexity of healthcare and medication which is a result of increasing numbers of people living with multiple chronic health conditions.

Writing in Australian Pharmacist this month, Professor Libby Roughead highlights that in the 1980s, one in 10 Australians was living with three or more chronic conditions.

“Now, Australian health surveys show more than one in three of us is living with three or more chronic conditions. Consequent with this, medication use has also increased,” Professor Roughead says.

“Combination therapy for single diseases, something not practiced until the late 1990s, is now common, as is increasing use of medicines for disease prevention.

“Up to two-thirds of older people are now taking five or more medicines, and more than 20% are taking 10 or more. This creates challenges for both patients and health practitioners to manage medicines, and obtain and maintain safe and effective use.”

Professor Roughead says pharmacy practice needs to be reorientated to meet the challenge of caring for patients with multiple chronic illnesses.

“The current standard of care that consists of medicine provision supported by patient education and consumer medicine information, a model of practice that arose in our health system when the majority of care was for acute illness, is still suitable for those on single medicines for acute illness,” she says.

“Pharmacy practice encompassing disease and medication education, patient self-management, and adherence support is required for people with a single chronic condition.

“Services need to expand to include medication reconciliation, adherence services, medication review, and multidisciplinary, agreed, care planning for patients with multiple chronic illnesses

“As the health profession most commonly visited by patients with multiple chronic conditions, pharmacy has a key role to play in identifying problems with care, resolving conflicts in care, and engaging other health professionals involved in patient care to prevent harm and improve outcomes for patients”

The multi award-winning Australian Pharmacist journal is distributed monthly to PSA members as a member benefit.

Media contact:   Peter Waterman
Public Affairs Director
0419 260 827