Clinical services for obstructive sleep apnea patients in pharmacies: the Australian experience
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Background In Australia, certain pharmacies have undertaken a role in the management of the chronic sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea. The perspectives of pharmacy staff involved in this niche clinical service have never been formally collated on a national scale. The experiences of Australian pharmacies could provide a template for pharmacies in other health systems to adopt similar roles. Objective To provide an overview of the perspectives of pharmacy staff involved in Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) and sleep apnea-related services. Specifically, to describe clinical and structural elements, explore benefits and barriers, investigate viability, and gauge perspectives on future directions. Setting Australian community pharmacies involved in CPAP and sleep apnea-related services. Method Cross-sectional mail survey. A questionnaire designed to meet the study objectives was developed by the researchers and mailed to all pharmacies in Australia providing CPAP services during the period of study recruitment. Pharmacies were identified through the distributor lists of the major CPAP manufacturers and a comprehensive Internet search. Non-responders were contacted in two subsequent recruitment rounds. Main outcome measure Self-reported sleep apnea service specifics. Results A response rate of 55 % was achieved (n = 106 questionnaires valid for data entry). Benefits of providing a CPAP service included meeting patient and community needs, and professional satisfaction. Barriers included the cost of CPAP equipment to patients and lack of time. A majority of pharmacies (71 %) reported the service was financially viable despite most (63 %) not charging a ‘fee for service.’ Respondents expressed the view that CPAP provision should remain a specialist area of practice within the pharmacy profession. Key areas identified for improvement within the service were: (1) Staff training and knowledge (2) Promotion of the service and increasing public awareness (3) Infrastructure and expansion (4) Inter-professional collaboration and communication (5) Patient follow-up. Conclusion The provision of CPAP and sleep apnea-related services can be a viable and rewarding experience for pharmacists. The role may need to remain a specialised area for those willing to invest significantly in the service—in time, staff, resources and finances.
KeywordsAustralia Chronic disease Community pharmacy Community pharmacy services Disease state management Extended clinical service Obstructive sleep apnea Primary care
C. Hanes is the recipient of scholarships from the Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) and the NHMRC Centre for Integrated Research and Understanding of Sleep (CIRUS), and gratefully acknowledges this support.
Conflicts of interest
The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
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