Patient-centred consultations in a dispensary setting: a learning journey

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BackgroundHospital dispensary consultations usually focus on telling your patients how to take medicines. However, patient views are not always considered. We suggest that the value of a consultation lies in helping patients get the best health outcome from their medicines and this requires more than education. Pharmacy teams need to think differently about the way in which consultations are undertaken in order to improve effectiveness of medicines.ObjectivesTo explore development of patient-centred consultations in a hospital dispensary environment using a health coaching approach.MethodIn April 2014, London North West Hospitals NHS Trust Pharmacy Department commissioned a 2-day health coaching course for 18 pharmacists to improve patient focus in consultations. Using learning from the course and knowledge of dispensary processes, a flow chart was created to support management of the three categories of patient. Pharmacy staff trained to tailor their consultation to patient need using a coaching approach, including use of principles of the 4Es (Explore, Educate, Empower, Enable), a pharmacy-based model for short consultation.ResultsPreliminary findings from the new approach included improved staff satisfaction, improved skill mix and positive feedback from patients. The main perceived disadvantage of using the above consultation style was the fear of increasing the time for consultations, however, this appears unfounded. A need for a dedicated counselling area to improve privacy in consultations was identified.ConclusionsProvision of a patient-centred consultation framework in a dispensary environment, using a coaching approach, has improved focus on patient needs, continuing the journey towards patient-centred care.

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