Chronic disease prevention and management in primary health care

Response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health - best practice in chronic disease prevention and management in primary health care

Extract:

There is an ongoing need for genuine primary health care reform and the Guild welcomes the opportunity to provide a response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health regarding best practice in chronic disease prevention and management in primary health care.  What we are seeing are programs that come and go, lack scale and duplicate each other.  Equipping all arms of the health system to work in a coordinated way towards common measurable health outcomes is vital to ensure ongoing affordability across the system. This will only be facilitated by better alignment and coordination within Federal Government through the Community Pharmacy Agreement and State/Territory Governments as well as with Primary Health Networks and with private health insurers.

There are over 5,450 community pharmacies in Australia offering a highly skilled network of primary health care professionals providing quality advice and service. Community pharmacies exist in well distributed and accessible locations and often operate over extended hours seven days a week in urban, rural and remote areas. Both well and sick people visit community pharmacy, providing an opportunity to engage people along the health spectrum and hard-to-reach populations who do not use other health services, particularly in rural and remote locations.

A health system weighted towards expensive episodic acute medical care is inefficient at dealing with the changing demographics and disease patterns that we’re now experiencing in Australia – patterns that we will continue to experience for decades to come. The health challenges associated with this rising chronic disease burden and an ageing population require a coordinated multidisciplinary approach to care, where teams of health providers are supported to work collaboratively in the community setting, tending to people’s health needs before they get to the point of needing hospital admission or requiring a resource intensive and costly level of primary health care. Effective referral systems between all health professionals where expanding skills are embraced rather than resisted, are fundamental to future reform. I have provided a small number of examples in which community pharmacy should be viewed as an opportunity for best practice in chronic disease prevention and management in primary health care.

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Page last updated 30 January 2018