Introduction Studies and research have shown that providing patient education through knowledge and counselling of the disease process and subsequent treatment empower patients and carers to improve patient’s health. Through understanding rationale for treatment, implications of non- compliance, non-adherence, disease progression and adverse effects of therapy, pharmacy staff are perfectly placed to empower patients and carers with evidence based knowledge and information to make their own educated decisions regarding therapy. The ‘Let’s Talk Medicines’ telephone service was set up in 2015 for exactly this purpose. It is a dedicated medicines information (MI) service aimed at patients, parents and carers, giving the opportunity to ask questions and obtain advice from specialist paediatric pharmacists about their child’s medicines once leaving the hospital. The services have vastly expanded over the last 2 and half years with the addition of an email address as an alternative means for contact. The helpline number and email address are heavily publicised to parents and carers through posters throughout the hospital, details published on all paediatric discharge summaries and printed information cards given to all outpatients during counselling.
Aim To evaluate the service progression by analysing the sheer volume and types of queries over the last 3 years to identify how beneficial the novel service has proven to be.
Methods To retrospectively analyse data from 3 monthly reports over the last 2.5 years of the service to identify number of calls, emails, types of queries received and users of the service.
Results The current service relies on all members of the pharmacy team answering calls on a dedicated patient line on an ad-hoc basis with several specialist pharmacists reviewing queries on a daily basis. Average call durations were between 5 to 8 minutes with more complex queries requiring in depth data search taking up to 30 minutes. All queries are logged on paper and then reviewed on a monthly basis as they are entered onto a database. Since the introduction of the service, the volume of calls received has increased by more than 50% with average of 35 per month in 2015 and 54 in 2017. Originally, the service was designed primarily for patients, parents and carers. Due to the increased recognition, the service has now been expanded to a variety of internal and external healthcare professionals, community practitioners and pharmacies, drug companies, commissioning staff, researchers and students. The types of queries range from supply issues, procurement of unlicensed medicines, to adverse effects, administration advice and complex pharmaceutical queries.
Conclusion The service has grown and developed with focus based around improving patient care, medication adherence and minimising medicines related risks. Through providing accurate, up-to-date and evidence based information its appeal has reached a wider audience including healthcare professionals. Combined with an increase in the number of calls and technological advances, a new email service has been rolled out in 2017, as an alternate means to contact the service. Direct comments from users of the service has shown positive feedback and trust.
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