There have been many changes to the way healthcare is performed over the last several months. Bushfires initially led to changes and then a global pandemic necessitated sometimes daily changes to the way we do things.
Consultations with General Practitioners via telephone or other electronic means became relatively common during the “lockdown” period of Covid 19 and are still available now and into the future under certain conditions. Telehealth prescriptions also became available and continue to be for several more months to minimise social contact but still ensure access to prescription medications. These prescriptions are sent directly from the GP to the pharmacy via email or fax are the precursor to electronic prescribing.
Electronic prescriptions were to commence in Australia even before Covid 19 however this process was fast tracked so that it can begin at the end of the year. Electronic prescribing is being trialled at locations around Australia ahead of roll out across the country.
The way in which electronic prescriptions will work is that when a GP prescribes a medication instead of a person receiving this as a paper prescription they will be sent a token (QR code) to their phone via SMS, as an email or it may be printed onto a piece of paper. The token is scanned at a pharmacy and thus the prescription is dispensed from here. For those people who do not wish to receive their prescription as an electronic prescription paper prescriptions as they are now will still be available.
This will obviously be a very big change to the way prescriptions are issued and dispensed and will require changes to the way pharmacies work and much technology change. It will remain to be seen how quickly electronic prescribing is taken up and utilised.
My Health Record
My Health Record has proven to be an invaluable tool in providing enhanced health care. When people were away from their homes and could not access their prescriptions and medicines due to bushfire Pharmacists and Doctors were able to access the persons My Health Record in order to provide them with their medicines. In a similar way this has proven useful in times of quarantine.
As a Pharmacist I find My Health Record extremely helpful when people are discharged from hospital and they are not sure how their medicines have changed. Being able to access their new medication list is essential and is now a lot easier.
Rapid changes to health care
Extreme changes to the way we live and problems we have to deal with have led to the need for major changes to the way healthcare is performed. The availability of these technological changes will mean that no matter what challenge we are faced with people will be able to access healthcare and their prescription medicines in a timely and less stressful fashion.
A good friend of mine, Professor Rylee Dionigi, is involved in this survey and study. If you have been affected by disruptions to sports and you are in a regional or rural area please fill in this survey.
The social and emotional impact of the disruption to sports events caused by Covid19 social distancing measures.
If you have asthma you may be used to walking in to a pharmacy and asking the Pharmacist for a Ventolin or Asmol puffer to treat asthma symptoms. Did you know that as of March 2020 it is not so easy to obtain a puffer from a pharmacy?
Ventolin/Asmol regulation changes
These puffers can now only be supplied to people who can show evidence of being diagnosed with a lung condition such as asthma or COPD or previous recorded supply of this medicine. Only one puffer can be supplied at a time unless it is on prescription.
What evidence can be given to show that a lung condition has been diagnosed?
- Letter from your Doctor stating that Ventolin or Asmol is needed to treat a lung condition
- Asthma management plan from you Doctor
- Previous history in the pharmacy’s computing program showing that asthma medicines have been prescribed
- Previous supply history shown in My Health Record
- Asthma medicine showing the label confirming that it is for that person, a photo of this medicine is also suitable
Why were asthma medicine regulations changed?
At the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic there was much panic buying. These asthma medicines were in as much demand as toilet paper. In order to control the supply of these medicines legislation was changed to limit the supply to one puffer and only with evidence of asthma or COPD diagnosis. These puffers must also now be labelled through the computer program which also records the supply of the item.
My QuitBuddy app
Between January and May this year the My QuitBuddy app had an increase in downloads of 310%! This means it was downloaded 24000 times! Unless there was a shortage in cigarettes (which I didn’t hear about) during the height of COVID 19 hopefully the app downloads led to more people quitting smoking. Especially in times of isolation using an app such as this lets you know you are not alone and can be a source of great help in quitting.
Smoking and COVID 19
Smokers are more likely to have severe symptoms if they contract COVID 19 than those who don’t smoke. Smokers are more likely to have cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, diabetes and other health conditions that may make them more likely to have a worse outcome if they have COVID 19. There isn’t evidence to say they are more likely to contract it though no doubt the virus scared some of those who smoke into quitting.
This is hard! It is acknowledged that quitting smoking is very difficult. Pharmacists and Doctors are able to help with knowledge and advice about products that may be right for you. Everyone is different and so different products and ways of quitting are appropriate for different people. Patches, lozenges, chewing gum, mouth spray etc are available to help you wean off cigarettes and nicotine. I also know people who have quit through hypnosis. If you are wanting to quit enlist the support of your Doctor, Pharmacist, family and friends, purchase a product if you would like to use it to quit, down load an app such as My QuitBuddy to give you all the help you can get and make a date to quit!
In 2019 the American Heart Association published an article giving tips on checking blood pressure correctly.
Taking the reading
Before checking it is preferable to sit resting in a chair for 3-5 minutes to obtain an accurate resting reading.
Blood pressure can vary in each arm so it is recommended that it be checked in both arms and whichever arm gives the higher reading is the arm that should be used to check blood pressure each time.
It’s important to NOT cross your legs when your blood pressure is being checked as this can lead to a higher reading.
Sitting on a chair or bed without back support can lead to a higher reading.
Readings should preferably be taken on bare skin however they can be taken over clothing as long as the clothing is not rolled up as this can constrict the area and elevate the reading.
There should be NO talking while a measurement is being taken.
Make sure the cuff is large enough. If a cuff is used that is too small it can give a higher reading.
White coat hypertension
Sometimes it is found that patients’ blood pressure readings are higher when checked by a Doctor (who traditionally wore a white coat) as opposed to being checked elsewhere. It is for this reason that Doctor’s sometimes suggest that someone have their blood pressure checked in a pharmacy to see if the reading is similar.
Measuring blood pressure yourself
For most people it is not necessary to check your own blood pressure and this usually leads to unnecessary worrying. There are some situations where your Doctor might ask you to check it for a period of time and record the readings to show them.