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Pharmacists expand roles for better patient outcomes through self-care: report

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The report highlighted key themes to improve community pharmacy for enhanced self-care support

Pharmacists globally are broadening their roles to support self-care, aiming to enhance patient health outcomes through increased contributions and proactive behaviours, according to a new report.

However, significant barriers, including inadequate funding and limited access to patient records, impede the optimisation of self-care activities and outcomes improvement in this area, the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) said in its report.

The FIP report, titled ‘Community Pharmacy Insights: Supporting the Need for Self-Care,’ gathers insights from 238 respondents across 55 countries with the aim of providing evidence-based policy support for workforce development.

Nearly all respondents (93.2 per cent) indicated that pharmacists should actively engage in providing self-care support, FIP said. Furthermore, 48.9 per cent supported the involvement of pharmacy technicians, while 39.2 per cent endorsed the participation of pharmacy assistants and other team members in offering self-care support.

Educating and advising patients on their self-limiting conditions emerged as the most commonly reported approach by respondents (79.4 per cent), followed by guidance on the use of medication for self-limiting conditions (74.4 per cent) and providing medicines to patients (59.2 per cent).

According to FIP, the majority of respondents supported self-care statements related to actively assisting patients in healthcare decisions and consultations (87 per cent), medication adherence (89.9 per cent), and facilitating lifestyle changes (85.7 per cent).

Meanwhile, health education websites are the most widely used resources by respondents to support self-care (44.5 per cent), followed by health tracking apps (36.6 per cent) and diagnostic tests (29.8 per cent).

“The primary healthcare context is evolving rapidly, driven by an increasing emphasis on self-care where appropriate,” said Ian Bates, Director of the FIP Global Pharmaceutical Observatory. “Empowering patients with self-care is a significant way in which pharmacists can support universal health coverage, and, as evident throughout this report, community pharmacists recognise the importance of being able to offer effective support activities.”

The report also identified key themes for enhancing community pharmacy practice and overall management for more effective self-care support delivery, emphasizing the utilisation of digital self-care tools and healthcare technologies.

“Educating and training pharmacists to support self-care remains a necessity to bring tangible benefits to patients,” Bates added. “This can enhance patients’ health literacy and awareness, assisting them in better self-care, thereby contributing to economic impacts and maintaining sustainable and efficient services.”

In October, FIP launched a report on pharmacy-led common ailment schemes, emphasising improved access to care, enhanced patient quality of life, and cost-effective alternatives, all contributing to the reduction of GP workloads.

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