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Virtual Clinical Pharmacy Service

Western NSW Local Health District
Project Added:
24 May 2021
Last updated:
11 November 2022

Virtual Clinical Pharmacy Service

The Virtual Clinical Pharmacy Service (VCPS) provides health facilities in Western NSW and Far West Local Health Districts with clinical pharmacy services where there is no onsite access. Virtual clinical pharmacists provide safe and high-quality medication management, regardless of where a patient is admitted.

Western New South Wales Local Health District (WNSWLHD) and Far West Local Health District (FWLHD) comprise some of the most remote regions in NSW. Between them, they cover almost 450,000km2, with a population of more than 300,000 people. These rural Local Health Districts (LHDs) serve their populations through rural hospitals, multipurpose facilities (MPS), and nurse-only remote clinics. Most small hospitals in WNSWLHD and FWLHDs are geographically isolated and dispersed, without sufficient patient volumes to sustain an onsite pharmacy service.

The use of medications in healthcare contributes to Australians’ quality of life. Medications can significantly improve life expectancy by “curing or delaying the onset of diseases, relieving symptoms and preventing health complications”. However, medication can also cause harm when not correctly prescribed or taken, and is associated with more errors and adverse events than any other form of healthcare. A 2016 review of studies assessing medication errors in Australian hospital admissions suggest a rate of two errors for every three patients at the time of admission.

Most harm resulting from medicine use is preventable, and integration of clinical pharmacy in acute hospital settings is a key strategy in reducing medication harm.

The Virtual Clinical Pharmacy Service (VCPS) provides access to clinical pharmacy in rural and remote facilities and addresses medication safety issues. The VCPS aims to reduce medication-related harm, improve communication at transfer of care, empower patients and improve medication compliance.

The VCPS was established through a NSW Ministry of Health Translational Research Grant to demonstrate the use of virtual clinical pharmacy to improve the delivery of safe and high-quality healthcare regardless of patient location. The research project evaluated the acceptability, effectiveness and scalability of a service such as this in rural and remote NSW Health facilities.

This report shares the insights gained through the successful implementation of the VCPS.

Download Virtual Care: Virtual Clinical Pharmacy Service - PDF

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