A young pharmacist on the rise

Source: Catherine Waterman, Australian Pharmacist, February 2015

An innovative research funding model driven by a young South Australian pharmacist may hold the key to reducing fragmentation in the healthcare system.

CPIE Pharmacy Services (CPIE) and Flinders University’s Medical Device Research Institute (MORI) have secured a grant for $500,000 from the South Australian Government to improve the Hospital in the Home (HITH) Service. This service aims to deliver treatments such as chemotherapy,
antibiotics, postoperative pain relief and chronic pain medication to patients in their home using a variety of drug-infusion devices.

The grant, awarded by the Premier’s Research and Industry Fund Collaboration Pathways Program, will bring together allied health professionals. The aim is to encourage the continuity of care vital for a smooth transition from patient care to recovery.

Andrew Sluggett, a young pharmacist on a mission to improve the future of health, played a vital role in helping to secure the grant and will work collaboratively with multiple partners, including project leader Professor Karen Reynolds (MORI Director).

The grant supports the research and design of a new drug delivery system to enhance efficiency and safety, with the ultimate aim of improving services. This is timely as there is a growing need to meet the demands of an ageing population and improve patient care within the community.

The research goal is to see hospital treatments delivered on a community level, increasing efficiencies in the community and supporting community needs. The project will have input from CPIE Pharmacy Services, The University of South Australia, SA Health and the Royal Adelaide Hospital, with each partner bringing different expertise.

The project stems from a previous collaboration between CPIE Pharmacy Services and Flinders University. In 2012, the Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP) at Flinders University, funded by the State Government, undertook a 250-hour research and development project for CPIE to evaluate infusion technologies. The project encouraged the development of a relationship between CPIE, researchers from Flinders University and the MORI that led them to collaborate and ultimately receive the Collaboration Pathway grant.

“As well as our pharmacy’s commitment to the HITH service, we are also working on a side project to pursue the development of an integrated model of patient care through our integrated private hospital, general practice, and community pharmacy service,” Andrew told Australian Pharmacist.

“We aim to link the patient’s journey (transitions of care) between the private hospital admission, visit to the GP, and back to the community, with the pharmacist playing an integral role in that journey.”

PSA National President Grant Kardachi said the HITH Service would help eliminate the silo mentality which could present a long-term threat to the healthcare professions and ultimately patient outcomes.

“Recognising and addressing the community needs will allow for improved, streamlined services that can operate outside of the hospital environment. This will in the end aim to reduce hospital waits and ease the burden of patients requiring services and treatments,” Mr Kardachi said.

Mr Kardachi sees great promise in the model.

“This is an innovative initiative to ease pressure on hospitals and the community and by focussing on having more services delivered at the community level it helps to ease the overall healthcare burden,” he said.

Mr Kardachi cautioned, however, that to be successful, such programs needed continuous refinement.

“The challenge lies in funding and whether it is funded on the community level or there is some other funding method to ensure its sustainability in the long term,” he said.

Challenges are what appear to keep Andrew Sluggett inspired, and his hard work, motivation and success has paid off.

After being registered as a pharmacist in 2006, he expanded his skillset by immersing himself in several pharmacy avenues such as aseptic compounding, hospital experience as well as becoming accredited to conduct medicine reviews.

His passion for professional development and learning for pharmacists has led to local and national representation on various committees and working groups.

On his way up the pharmacy and corporate ladder, he has been involved in various committees and working groups and is now a member of several private hospitals, manufacturing and compounding working groups such as the Manufacturing Working Group of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA). Andrew is also Branch Co-Vice President of the PSA SNNT Branch Committee and General Manager/Chief Pharmacist of CPIE Pharmacy Services.

Mr Kardachi praised Andrew’s commitment: “Andrew is an accredited pharmacist with a professional focus who is innovative in looking at new areas of practice and delivers work that is strongly evidence-based.”

Andrew’s passion to address issues facing the pharmacy profession and the ever­growing and changing health system was his motivation to explore and improve the HITH Service. His aseptic compounding knowledge and drive to expand the role a pharmacist can play was an additional factor.

With this drive and motivation, CPIE’s direct involvement in the success and sustainability of improving the HITH service aims to reduce hospitalisations by integrating allied health professionals. CPIE seeks to improve the relationship between hospitals and the community, while working to ease the pressure on the healthcare system.

However, Andrew’s success doesn’t stop there. In October 2014 he was named the SA / NT PSA Branch Pharmacist of the Year 2014.

So what’s next for this driven early career pharmacist?

Andrew has no plans to slow down any time soon. CPIE aims to become involved in a clinical evaluation of infusion devices at a large South Australian hospital. The study will evaluate the device’s role in continuous antimicrobial therapy in the Hospital in the Home program, improving the current system of drug administration and device management and staff productivity.

His goals are to inspire and motivate other pharmacists to continue to strive towards improving the pharmacy profession.

“As well as our pharmacy’s commitment to the HITH service, we are pursuing the development of an integrated model of patient care through our integrated private hospital, general practice, and community pharmacy service,” he says.

“We see the opportunity to develop new professional service models that are pharmacist-led, that will enhance our role as suppliers of medicines, but give us the ability to value add to patient care as medicines experts.

“We must always be mindful of maintaining our membership of the healthcare team and avoiding expanding beyond our expertise, and continually challenge our thinking to see where we can add value through our knowledge as medicines experts.”