IT at the centre of action plan for Medicines New Zealand

The NZ Ministry of Health has released a five-year action plan to implement the Medicines New Zealand strategy, focusing on seven “impact areas” that includes the My List of Medicines initiative to provide a single, accurate, shared and complete list of a consumer’s medicines.

The Implementing Medicines New Zealand 2015-2020 (pdf) plan follows a previous plan that saw the establishment of the New Zealand Formulary and changes to prescribing rules.

The new plan will include an enhanced role for pharmacists and may lead to certain prescribing rights that are also shared by nurse practitioners and midwives.

In his forward, associate minister for health Peter Dunne said he believed an enhanced role for pharmacists would help the movement towards more integrated consumer-centred care.

“Pharmacists are in a position that makes them accessible to people seeking health care or advice,” Mr Dunne wrote. “They can work collaboratively with other health professionals to ensure the right people receive the right services at the right time.

“Making changes to the interaction a person has with a pharmacist could therefore have a large impact on the health outcomes of New Zealanders, as well as on their consumer experience.”

The action plan is aimed at bringing about the changes required to deliver on the overall strategy, which has three core outcomes: medicines are safe, of high quality and effective; New Zealanders have access to the medicines they need, regardless of their individual ability to pay; and that choices about medicines and the ways the system delivers them result in optimal outcomes.

The seven impact areas are:

  • making the most of every point of care
  • enabling shared care through an integrated health care team
  • optimal use of antimicrobials
  • empowering individuals and families/whānau to manage their own medicines and health
  • optimal medicines use in older people and those with long-term conditions
  • competent and responsive prescribers
  • removing barriers to access.

The first impact area seeks to ensure that every contact with a patient or consumer is optimised so that health information is shared, understood and the value of care provided is maximised. The plan's objective in this impact area is to ensure that medicines adherence, lifestyle management and symptom management are better supported through improved communication between all health professionals and consumers.

It also wants to see an increased use of monitoring, screening and brief interventions to improve the quality of care, particularly for at-risk or vulnerable groups.

Health IT is assisting in this area through the implementation of the New Zealand ePrescription Service (NZePS) in general practice management systems as well as its current secondary care initiatives such as as electronic prescribing and administration (ePA) and electronic medicine reconciliation (eMR).

Over the next five years, the MOH promises to work with the sector to make best use of new IT infrastructure, the plan states.

“My List of Medicines will provide a single, accurate, shared and complete list of a consumer’s medicines, including pharmacist-only medicines, plus diagnoses, adverse reactions and allergies.

“All health organisations can support medicines adherence further by exploring options for improved online communications, and by ensuring the provision of appropriate written information and multimedia applications to support face-to-face communication.

“Pharmacists can increase the use of evidence-based screening and interventions with an additional focus on self-care, medicines adherence and lifestyle modification.”

To enable shared care through an integrated healthcare team, an initial focus will be the development of an IT infrastructure that enables current and accurate information to be shared across providers and settings.

This will see each person who interacts with the health system have electronic access to their health information through shared care plans, patient portals and electronic prescribing.

The MOH promises to work with DHBs to implement electronic medication reconciliation within their hospitals, and will use it at admission, transfer and discharge.

It will also work with professional pharmacy organisations to explore and develop models for pharmacist prescribing.

To empower individuals to manage their own medicines and health, emphasis will be place on improving health literacy so they can make informed decisions. The provision of patient portals to provide health information will be emphasised.

To ensure optimal medicines use in older people and those with long-term conditions, the National Health IT Board will continue with the national roll-out of regional clinical workstations to enable clinicians to access clinical information about health consumers.

A national My List of Medicines will be established to provide a single list of medicines for every consumer, and primary and aged care providers will work to ensure medicine reconciliation happens consistently at transitions and involves the patient as well as make better use of electronic prescribing and scheduling and put in systems to enable appropriate de-prescribing.

The MOH plans to develop a single competency framework for prescribers to enable the sixth impact area and will also lead work to promote the adoption of standards for clinical documentation, linked to medication charting standards, within shared electronic health records by the different healthcare professions.

Removing barriers to access will see an increased use of technologies such as telehealth and video conferencing to improve access to pharmacists in remote locations and after hours in rural areas.

Eligibility information for the Prescription Subsidy Card will be shared with prescribers as well as pharmacies via the New Zealand ePrescription Service.

Implementing Medicines New Zealand is available from the MOH website.

Posted in New Zealand eHealth

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