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Atherton phramacy set to shine on national stage

14 May 2015

Rural and remote pharmacist Adam Hogan, Mt Garnet Indigenous Health Worker Jedda Geesu with Mt Garnet nurse Deborah Kelly.
Rural and remote pharmacist Adam Hogan, Mt Garnet Indigenous Health Worker Jedda Geesu with Mt Garnet nurse Deborah Kelly.

ATHERTON Hospital pharmacy’s innovative approach to service delivery in regional areas is set to shine on the national stage this month as part of the 13th National Rural Health Conference in Darwin.

Senior Pharmacist Michelle Rothwell was invited to present at the event in recognition of the service improvements for rural and remote patients through the innovative use of Telehealth technology.

After identifying gaps in pharmaceutical services for both patients and staff in several rural sites across the Tableland and remote western areas, Ms Rothwell, with the support of the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, successfully secured $270,000 of recurrent funding through the Rural and Remote Revitalisation fund.

"This funding allowed us to introduce a pharmacy service via Telehealth technology to our Herberton, Malanda, Millaa Millaa, Ravenshoe, Mt Garnet, Georgetown, Croydon and Forsyth facilities covering an area of around 160,000 kilometres," she said.

"This new service allows our patients and clinicians direct access to a pharmacist and as a result patient medication reviews can be done quickly and easily."

Ms Rothwell said nurses identified patients within their communities who could be at risk of wrongly prescribed, unsuitable or unintentional misuse of medication otherwise known as ‘medication misadventure.’

"It is well established that in rural communities timely and quality access to medication services can be a significant problem," she said.

"Using Telehealth we are now able to conduct a face to face medication review with a patient and their nurse, giving us a chance to explain how to correctly self-administer medication and what best suits their individual needs.

"Previously pharmacy services to the seven rural and remote facilities consisted of supply and occasional phone information for nursing staff, now nurses are actively engaged with our pharmacist outpatient clinic and we are already seeing strong patient uptake."

Mt Garnet resident Aileen Johnstone is one of the patients benefiting from the service.

"I found it great to be able to talk to the pharmacist and actually see the person I was having a conversation with," she said.

"The convenience of using Telehealth has saved me having to travel from Atherton to Mt Garnet which can be very tiring.

"I am now confident that I am taking my medication in the correct order and at the right time."

Ms Rothwell said the new model was attracting significant interest within the health industry.

“It is a real thrill to be presenting at the 13th National Rural Health Conference, it is one of the largest events for health professionals looking to improve services for rural, regional and remote Australian residents,” she said.

The Conference will be held from 24-27 May 2015 at the Darwin Convention Centre in the Northern Territory.

Last updated: 15 May 2015