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Recognition of pharmacists’ role in self care is growing, new FIP report says

Pharmacists’ expanding role in self care is the subject of a new report from FIP. “Pharmacy as a gateway to care: Helping people towards better health” reviews the current state of consumer interest in health care and presents a collection of evidence of pharmacy services related to self care and the value that pharmacists bring to health care systems in this way. It lays out the drivers of self care and “profound” changes in the way health care systems operate. 

Community pharmacies have provided health care for many years, through giving advice, providing a medicine or, when needed, referring patients to other health care professionals. This report, however, reflects the embedding of a formalised approach whereby pharmacies are reimbursed for these services, and where self-care through pharmacists is considered as an integral part of the health system.

Pharmacies are now being seen as a formal gate of entry to the health care system. The report cites schemes being run in Scotland and Switzerland as notable examples of the recognition and formal integration of pharmacists’ contribution to the system. “Collaborative interaction between patients and pharmacists, with or without the provision of a therapeutic substance, confers undoubted benefits to the total health care system. More governments should consider and promote the relevance and importance of self care and acknowledge the role of pharmacists in delivering improved patient health outcomes through supporting patients in self care activities,” said Mr Warren Meek, co-author of the report.

“The sustenance of viable quality health systems will require optimal use of all health competencies, both by individuals and governments, and it will become increasingly relevant for pharmacists to be able to facilitate and secure effective self care,” the authors say. However, the report also underscores a number of benefits of self care beyond the economic, including self confidence and convenience.

In addition, the new report contains a focus on ways in which pharmacists’ contribution can be optimised, including through the uptake of point-of-care testing. “Standard operating procedures for quality management of self care situations should be developed,” Mr Meek said.

The “Pharmacy as a gateway to care: Helping people towards better health” report will act as a reference paper for FIP’s work to update its 1996 Statement of Principle on the Professional Role of Pharmacists in Self Care.