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Unpaid services pharmacies provide into the spotlight in PhD student's research

Thursday, 9 November 2017 9:34am

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PhD student Yasmin Abdul Aziz is interviewing pharmacists to learn first hand the kinds of unpaid services they provide to patients.

PhD student Yasmin Abdul Aziz is evaluating the unpaid services pharmacies provide, the cost of these and their impact on patients’ health.

“We know currently the funding for pharmacy is tight and could worsen, so it could impact on these services,” Miss Abdul Aziz says.

From her own work as a locum pharmacist at Musselburgh Pharmacy in Dunedin, the University of Otago student knows first hand there are a lot of services pharmacists provide, like patient clinical assessments, which pharmacies do not receive funding for.

As there is increasing talk about pharmacy moving into more patient-centred services and pharmacists providing these services, which they could be funded for, there is currently no hard data showing what is already happening.

“There is very limited data quantifying these unfunded services, which we know exist,” Miss Abdul Aziz says.

Often pharmacists are patient advocates, going out of their way to provide medicines advice and clinical assessments that potentially have a big impact on the patient’s health care.

Because of this, Miss Abdul Aziz plans to evaluate the impact of unpaid pharmacy services on patient health outcomes.

“We do have methods that we are going to be using to come to the conclusion as to what could happen if the patient was not provided with that service,” she says.

The project aims to estimate savings achieved by avoiding hospitalisations or reducing costs for patients with chronic illness.

Ultimately, she plans to do an economic valuation to find out the value of the unfunded services.

Miss Abdul Aziz’s supervisors are school dean Carlo Marra and former dean, Stephen Duffull. They were awaiting ethical approval for the project at the time of speaking to Pharmacy Today, but the young pharmacist was hopeful she would be able to begin her project in October.

She plans to have face to face interviews with pharmacists working in a wide range of pharmacies throughout the country, to ensure a wide variety of pharmacies are covered from small pharmacies to large, urban to rural.

Miss Abdul Aziz graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from Otago University in 2014. She did her internship at Palmerston North Hospital and on completion was awarded a scholarship to carry out a Postgraduate Certificate in Pharmacy.

As part of this she examined clinical practice around providing training and information to children – and their families – undergoing insulin pump therapy in New Zealand and Australia. She received an award for her research last year at the New Zealand Society for the Study of Diabetes’ annual conference and on completion of her PGCert received a University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship.

Research is becoming a real passion for the young pharmacist.


Article written by Liane Topham-Kindley for Pharmacy Today, November 2017.  Photograph by Rewa Pene.