A new outpatient clinic in Dunedin to help patients manage multiple medications and improve their health – a joint venture between the University of Otago’s School of Pharmacy and Southern District Health Board – is believed to be the first of its kind in Australasia.
Increasingly, a large number of New Zealanders are being treated for more than one medical condition and, together with an ageing population, it is common for patients to be prescribed several medications.
School of Pharmacy Dean, Professor Carlo Marra, says the new clinic aims to assist these patients by offering expertise in complicated medical regimes that require more time than busy GPs or pharmacists can offer in routine consultations.
“We are truly excited to be working with Southern DHB and WellSouth PHO pharmacists on this venture to improve health outcomes in the community by optimising medication management,” Professor Marra says.
The Southern DHB has committed to funding a full-time pharmacist to run the clinic for patients referred from Dunedin Hospital. Professional practice fellows, who are pharmacists employed by the School of Pharmacy, will also be invited to practice in the clinic.
Patients will be offered an hour of their specialist time to work through their needs and provide the service they require. This will include medicines education to increase their adherence, minimise side effects and improve health outcomes. Patients may also be referred for review of their medicine regime such as reducing the number of medicaitions they are on or simplifying their regime. Patients are not charged for the service.
The clinic will be officially opened by Health Minister Dr David Clark at a special function next Friday, March 29.
Southern DHB Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nigel Millar, says the Southern district has a particularly high number of older people receiving multiple medications and as people age this can become a problem.
“For people on complex sets of medications, the opportunity to focus on them in detail means they can get the best from their medications,” Dr Millar explains.
“They’ll be assured they’re on the right ones and can be referred for advice on ceasing those that may no longer be necessary or have the potential to cause harm.”
Professor Marra says the clinic is believed to be a first in Australasia, in terms of a School of Pharmacy operating its own outpatient clinic. The clinic not only provides benefits for patients, but also for pharmacy students who will have opportunities to experience modern patient-focused care in the clinic, he says.
The School of Pharmacy last year implemented a new curriculum that prioritises patient care and the achievement of health outcomes.
“With this new philosophy, there is a need for more experiential education. The clinic will help us fulfil this need,” Professor Marra explains.
The University is funding development of the new clinic which is housed in the School of Physiotherapy. The clinic provides several consultation rooms with space for pharmacists, patients and students, a waiting area, a reception area and storage for equipment and consumables. No medications will be dispensed in the clinic, it will provide clinical advice only.