Sometimes making an appointment with your GP or local clinic can be tricky. The good news is your local pharmacist might just be able to help you with what you need, with plenty of health care and in-pharmacy services that go beyond just filling scripts.
We chat to pharmacist Renee Wynne from Terry White Chemmart Wynn Vale about what it means to be a pharmacist today, and what pharmacy services might help you and your family.
“I think being a pharmacist is about helping people with their health needs and providing whole health solutions,” Renee says. “It goes beyond just dispensing medication and it’s more about how do we look at helping their whole health.”
Once upon a time you had to make an appointment with your local doctor or GP to get your seasonal vaccinations, these days, for some, a quick trip to the pharmacy can sort you out. From flu vaccinations to whooping cough, pharmacies are now an easy, efficient way to get your jabs.
“The main vaccinations people come in for would be flu and whooping cough,” Renee says. “I think the biggest benefit of having them available at the pharmacy is easier access. We’re providing people with an easy option to go and get it but still in a safe, professional environment.”
It’s worth knowing that children, over 65’s and sufferers of chronic conditions might still be required to visit a GP for vaccinations.
From heart health to weight, diet and medications, pharmacists can now help you monitor and manage your health in a number of different ways. They’re able to check your blood pressure, give you a heart health check and suggest supplements and vitamins based on your overall health and symptoms.
Many pharmacists even offer weight loss and diet advice, although it’s important to remember that all advice is general, and if you have any serious conditions or concerns, you should visit your GP.
“Usually people will book in for a full health check with us,” Renee explains. “They’ll have a blood pressure test, cholesterol test, have their BMI checked and cardiovascular risk assessed. We have a discussion of what their results should mean and if we need to refer them to their doctor. This is a great option for people who wouldn’t usually go to the doctor or haven’t had a checkup in a while.”
If you’ve picked up a cold and can’t get to work, it’s good know to know that you might be able to get your sick certificate at your local pharmacy.
“We have a questionnaire that we go through with patients,” Renee says, “and then we assess, based on our knowledge, if we believe they’re in fact unfit for work. It has to be within our scope of expertise though, so if we feel it requires a doctor’s advice, we will let them know.”
Next time you have a cold or chesty cough, and your symptoms aren’t too severe, think about visiting your pharmacist first. “We can assess your symptoms and decide if you need to be referred to a doctor for further attention,” Renee explains. “We can also help suggest products to combat your symptoms and help boost your immune system.”
If your little one has had a fall during Saturday morning sport and a Band-Aid won’t quite fix it, you can head into your local pharmacy and ask for treatment advice. Most pharmacies stock a range of wound treatment dressings, creams and bandages, so you can take home what you need or even treat the wound in-store.
“Some pharmacies have wound care clinics so they will clean and dress wounds for patients,” Renee says. “People would have to book for that, but if your pharmacy doesn’t have a clinic, pharmacists can still provide product suggestions, care advice and whether a referral is required.”
If you or someone in your family suffers from a chronic condition, pharmacists can be a great source of information and advice when it comes to helping manage your condition. “Heart health, asthma, diabetes, pain and mental health are all chronic conditions which pharmacists are able to advise and support patients with,” Renee outlines.
She says some pharmacists these days are even qualified as Credentialled Diabetes Educators, a role previously only able to be provided by doctors and nurses. While the accreditation requires further university education, Renee says it’s a wonderful skill to have and to be able to offer to patients. “Now, patients can come to the pharmacists for a diabetes education session.”
“It’s great because we’ve already established trust with a patient by seeing them regularly to pick up their medication, so now we can take it one step further and be able to actually have a good look at their diabetes and support them in managing it.”
While we all know to go to the pharmacy to pick up our medication, what you might not know is that pharmacies offer accompanying medication management tools and services to help you keep track of your medication, dosage, scripts and provide up-to-date information.
“We help people manage their medication through script reminder services,” Renee says. “People leave their scripts with us and then they can either have SMS or app reminders for when their scripts are due. We also do medication packing to help people manage their medications, especially if there are on multiple medications.”
“Medication reviews is something we do as well, which we can do in the home or in the pharmacy. We discuss (with patients) if they’ve got any concerns or issues and we provide them with a medication list, too, with information on when they take it and what it’s for, which they can then use if they’re going to see any other specialists or even if they need to call an ambulance.”
Health Partners Extras members can claim benefits towards prescription compounded medicines* under their pharmacy benefits. On eligible covers, you’ll only pay up to $40 per prescription, with the gap covered up to your annual limit. Call us on 1300 113 113 to check your pharmacy limit and ensure you have the appropriate level of cover to access the benefit.
20% Discount on most non-prescription products on presentation of Health Partners membership card for members with Extras products, but excludes items already discounted by 40% or more, agency lines, schedule 3 recordable items. Benefits and discounts only available at Health Partners Participating Pharmacies. Refer to Health Partners Member Guide for more information.