Case Study: Capital Chemist Charnwood

Samantha Kourtis

Samantha Kourtis is a Managing Partner at Capital Chemist Charnwood in the Canberra suburb of Charnwood. Her pharmacy won the Quality Care Pharmacy Program (QCPP), Pharmacy of the Year award in 2014. The same year Samantha won the Telstra Business Women’s Award.

Read Samantha’s case study to learn how she and her dedicated team have built a successful COPD Pharmacy Service.

What motivated you to start planning and delivering a COPD Pharmacy Service?

Initially we had a hunch that there was a need in our community for a COPD service. We had patients getting prescription medication for COPD and we hoped this service would raise awareness and offer support to those people. This would potentially enable us to talk to people who hadn’t been diagnosed or even considered that they had COPD who were buying over the counter Ventolin for their shortness of breath.

Our hunch was confirmed when we reviewed the Medicare Local health atlas which geographically mapped disease states. The atlas population data showed that our local community had one of the highest rates of smoking in the ACT and high incidences of COPD.

How did you start the program?

The service started out as part of our Health Awareness program in which we focused on one particular health initiative once a week and rotated the topics across a calendar. COPD was in the mix.

We used general resources to target and educate patients who were already getting medications to make sure they knew about their disease state, what it meant to their quality of life and how we could work together to help them improve things like their inhaler techniques.

The program grew when we started to tie it into our Smoking Cessation program. Having the conversation with patients about quitting smoking and reducing their risk of developing COPD. We purchased a PiKo-6 device and now use it within both our COPD and smoking cessation services.

Through conversations with people buying cough mixture we were also able to broach the subject of talking to their doctor about their lung function. They were buying cough mixture so they had a cold or cough. We would then find out if they were a smoker and talk to them about their cough.

On World COPD Day in November 2014 our COPD service was officially launched, offering free PiKo analysis and preliminary screening.

Prior to launching we reached out to allied health professionals and GPs to inform them of our program and that they should expect referrals. As part of the program we refer people to support groups and suggest programs like pulmonary rehabilitation.

What resources did you find useful?

Guildcare software module on COPD
PiKo-6 online training video
Lung Foundation COPD online training for pharmacists
Printed materials from Lung Foundation and pharmaceutical companies

Will you continue to provide this service free of charge?

The reason we provide services is to make a difference to the health care of our community. It is not about money and profit. However, we need profit to invest in services and the continuation of those services.

My personal belief is that if you run your business from a place of integrity, from the heart and genuinely want to make a difference to the people that live in your community, then the money flows from that.

Unfortunately, to build evidence-based quality professional services and deliver them long-term, requires patient funding. We will therefore begin to charge for the service in August offering a 15 minute consultation for $20.

Any tips for other pharmacists considering setting up a COPD service?

With all new innovative programs, the most important thing to do is to allocate enough time and resources to those who are managing it so that they can do it properly. It takes quite a bit of time to pull evidence together to be sure you have quality measures in place.

Additionally, ensure you have a referral network in place so that you are connecting patients with the best people to offer support.

Ensure you have a champion within the organisation who is passionate about the program. You can’t do it if you don’t have someone committed to making it work.

Any further comments?

I have never had as much support from an organisation as we had from the Lung Foundation. In fact, I have never worked with a more supportive and professional organisation, ever! When you launch a health service it needs to be done properly and the support that the Lung Foundation provided, to ensure that when we launched it went well, blew my mind.