Information for GPs
Pharmacies in your area are taking part in a study to evaluate a new service that is designed to optimise medicine use and improve outcomes for patients newly prescribed a medicine for selected indications or conditions.
Approximately two-thirds of patients experience problems with their new medicines and one-third of patients are non-adherent within 10 days of having a new medicine dispensed. The new service, delivered through community pharmacies, intends to complement and reinforce the information GPs provide to patients when initiating a medicine and support patients at regular intervals before GP follow-up.
The New Medicine Support Service is adapted from a successful program widely implemented by the NHS England. In an English study, the service was shown to significantly increase patients’ adherence to medicines (by at least 10%), increase the number of medicine problems identified and managed at an early stage, and reduce costs to the health system.
NPS MedicineWise has already completed a small feasibility pilot of the service in Australia. The service was well received by patients, and provided an ideal opportunity for pharmacists to build relationships with patients and GPs.
What does the study involve?
This new service is currently being evaluated through a randomised controlled trial. An outline of the study is shown below, indicating that all patients referred to the study will be randomly allocated into either the service (intervention arm) or usual care (control arm). This current study seeks to test the effectiveness of the service in helping patients adhere to newly prescribed medicines, the feasibility of scaling up the service, and links with general practice.
The intervention and usual care groups will both receive medicine counselling as per usual pharmacy processes, but those selected into the intervention arm will also receive two intervention discussions (face to face or by telephone) from a pharmacist. Each intervention discussion will assess adherence to the medicine, identify any medicine-related problems, establish any support the patient needs, and answer any questions the patient has about their new medicine. If problems are identified, remedial steps are agreed or the patient is referred back to their GP .
Which patients are eligible for the study?
The new medicine must manage one of the following conditions or indications:
- type 2 diabetes
- asthma or other lung condition such as COPD
- anticoagulant/antiplatelet therapy.
What is the benefit to your patient and the health system?
A randomised controlled trial in England was able to demonstrate that patients receiving the service had:
- improved adherence, leading to better health outcomes
- increased engagement with their condition and medicines
- better support in the initial and ongoing management of their chronic condition
- reduced medicine wastage, and promotion of a shared model of care.
It is expected your practice will benefit from the study when patients receive the service, as it:
- supplements and reinforces the information you provide to patients
- helps identify medicine-related problems and highlights patients who may need GP review
- builds a stronger multidisciplinary relationship between your practice and community pharmacy.
For patients who receive the service as part of the study, it does not replace or encroach on current GP or pharmacy services (such as MedsChecks or Home Medicines Reviews), but aims to complement these by specifically supporting patients at the point that a new medicine is initiated and in the weeks preceding your follow-up with them.
How can you refer a patient to the study?
Referring patients into the study may help identify those who are more at risk of medicine-related problems and may benefit most.
You can communicate with your local participating pharmacy via your normal procedures to refer them into the study.
How will the pharmacist keep you involved?
The pharmacist will provide you with a service feedback form (electronic or paper version) for each person you refer into the study and for any patients who may need follow-up.
The form will detail any medicine-related issues that have arisen through the study and what strategies have been implemented to overcome them.
The pharmacist will also encourage the patient to visit you for additional advice, where appropriate.