RACGP urges patients to make time for health checks in general practice

Amanda Lyons

2/07/2018 3:47:35 PM

The RACGP says fast, free advice from the local pharmacy may sound good on the surface, but making time for your regular GP is a better long-term health strategy.

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel believes pharmacy health checks cannot replace in-depth care by GPs.
RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel believes pharmacy health checks cannot replace in-depth care by GPs.

A number of pharmacies and chemist chains are offering various healthcare checks at low prices or, in some cases, even at no cost.
But the RACGP is concerned that such ad-hoc health checks could fragment patients’ healthcare and potentially put them at risk.
As Queensland GP Dr Michael Clements explained on the ABC’s Breakfast, the RACGP’s advice is not intended to denigrate the important role of pharmacists, but rather to acknowledge different areas of expertise and focus on what is best for patient care.
‘Pharmacists are a very important part of the overall healthcare model, and what’s important is how we work with them to the benefit of that patient,’ he said.
Dr Clements discussed how GPs are sometimes able to detect additional health concerns during the course of thorough health check-ups, such as mental health issues, experiences of family violence or physical conditions such as melanomas.
‘It’s all good and well to point to a couple of quick, easy finger-prick tests, but the risk is that you don’t get that holistic picture,’ he said.
Dr Cameron Loy, Chair of RACGP Victoria, expressed concerns that quick health checks outside of general practice may prove perplexing for patients and leave gaps in important areas.
‘I’ve had patients who have done health checks somewhere else and they've been left confused by the results because they don't make a lot of sense, they haven't been contextualised,’ he told Fairfax.
‘You’ve got to remember that pharmacies may do things differently – tests for cholesterol without fasting, height and weight without any context – and the question is whether they are producing good health outcomes.’
RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel was keen to emphasise the message that the in-depth relationship between GPs and their patients could not be replaced by health checks in pharmacies.
‘GPs, as specialists in their patients’ health, are uniquely placed to be able to deliver high quality care to Australians through a thorough understanding of their overall health,’ he told newsGP.
‘This relationship is unique to general practice and cannot be replicated in quick, walk-in appointments.’

continuity of care health checks pharmacy

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