A research project in eight small local hospitals is being used to examine how telehealth technology can connect local staff to pharmacy experts to help improve safety and outcomes for patients.
Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) Rural Director of Medical Services, Dr Shannon Nott, said, “The Virtual Clinical Pharmacy Service is part of a research project that aims to improve the use of medications for patients at hospitals without an onsite hospital pharmacist.”
Using telehealth, local healthcare teams work with ‘virtual pharmacists’ to review each patient’s medications, provide advice and make recommendations.
The introduction of the Virtual Clinical Pharmacy Service has drawn strong support from rural hospitals, who see early benefits for their patients.
Warren Health Service Manager Sharon Ryan said “This is an innovative service dedicated to providing much needed medication advice for our patients. Our staff feel more supported with a virtual pharmacist working alongside the local healthcare team”
“The purpose of this research project is to evaluate the provision of clinical pharmacy services via video link to patients at eight hospitals in the Western NSW and Far West NSW Local Health Districts” explained Dr Nott. The Virtual Clinical Pharmacy Service is being offered in addition to current services and medication supply arrangements to hospitals will continue unchanged.
The eight sites, six from WNSWLHD and two from FWLHD taking part in the project are, Balranald MPS, Bourke MPS, Canowindra Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, Cobar Hospital, Gilgandra MPS, Narromine Hospital, Warren MPS and Wentworth MPS.
“We started rolling out the project in April 2020. So far, Warren MPS, Wentworth MPS, and Gilgandra MPS are live with virtual pharmacy. We will continue to roll out the project to the other sites throughout the rest of the year.”
The project will finish in June 2021, with the results used to guide any future expansion. The Virtual Clinical Pharmacy Services has been made possible by a grant from the NSW Ministry of Health Translational Research Grant Scheme.