Swiss pharmacies offer to treat minor conditions to take pressure off hospitals
In an attempt to take the pressure off doctors and hospitals, pharmacies in Switzerland are offering to treat minor health concerns in lieu of sending them to a GP or emergency department. The President of the pharmacy association Pharmasuisse argues that pharmacists could handle everything from vaccinations to the treatment of allergic reactions, freeing up GPs and hospitals to deal with people with more serious health complaints.
Swiss pharmacies could provide triage service
According to Martine Ruggli, President of Pharmasuisse, pharmacies could be the key to resolving some of the staff shortages that the Swiss healthcare system currently faces. Ruggli told Swiss broadcaster SRF, “We [pharmacies] can do the triage. We can also do some things ourselves, for example in the event of an allergic reaction or a urinary tract infection. Above all, however, we can determine which people we have to send to an emergency roomor to the general practitioner.”
Though it is already possible to get a certain level of assistance from pharmacists regarding small health complaints, the association argues that the skills of pharmacists are ready to be put to use as part of more complex treatments.
One of the things that Ruggli believes pharmacists could assist with includes the administration of vaccines, such as those that protect against flu - which are currently available at pharmacies but are usually not covered by health insurance. Ruggli is confident that this scenario will change soon, so long as the Swiss government agree to change the system.
Pharmacists could ensure waiting times for healthcare are lower
Not only would using pharmacists take the pressure off doctors and other healthcare staff like psychologists by lifting their workload, but using pharmacists to treat minor ailments could mean that people in Switzerland get faster treatments. However, to make this work, officials admitted that there needs to be greater coordination between doctors and pharmacies.
New E-prescriptions - a project by FMH and Pharmasuisse - should be ready by the end of 2023 and are expected to help better coordinate treatment plans between pharmacists and doctors. The pharmacy association hopes that the development could lead to more responsibility for pharmacists in the future.