New perspectives on crucial transitions of care

The pivotal role of pharmacists to ensure better medication management at the interface of hospital care is in focus after the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) released the latest issue of its flagship publication.

Now available online, free to SHPA members, the October Journal of Pharmacy Practice and Research (JPPR) assesses Australian and international practice on continuity of care, highlighting efforts to minimise medication-related risks through digital health initiatives and better collaboration with patients and multidisciplinary medical teams.

Editor in Chief Dr Chris Alderman says issues relating to the timely, accurate and complete transfer of medicines information are most prevalent during transition periods and hospital pharmacists are leading the way developing and refining new strategies to minimise danger to patients.

‘Digital health initiatives in New Zealand such as smartphone apps are improving care by allowing patients to access to their medical records, schedule appointments, view lab results and request repeat prescriptions, but these improvements carry risk that disparities of care will be created between digital haves and have nots.’

Dr Alderman says strengthening personal relationships is another promising approach to reducing the risk of hospitalisation due to poor primary care coordination.

‘In a Canadian study, pharmacists believed the largest impact they could have on patient health outcomes was through “chronic disease management”, under the key premise of forming long-lasting relationships with patients to ensure continuity of care across healthcare settings.

‘Further studies in Canada reiterated that beyond merely managing continuity of care, pharmacists are best-positioned to work with patients and inter-professional healthcare teams to reduce medication related risk during transition periods by taking the lead in medication reconciliation programs.’

SHPA Chief Executive Kristin Michaels says unique expertise allows hospital pharmacists to identify high-risk patients and support them during vulnerable transitions periods.

‘Hospital pharmacists are an untapped resource in efforts to deliver truly patient-centred care, a goal which recognises people need considered guidance and support upon hospital discharge to ensure they can access and use the medicines they need.

‘It is fantastic to see this issue of JPPR gather global perspectives on what is a pressing healthcare gap in Australia – SHPA will continue to advocate for the development of hospital-initiated Home Medicine Review referral pathways to improve transitional care.’