Narrabri Pharmacy recognised for professional innovation

  • Karen Carter, pharmacist and owner, outside Narrabri Pharmacy
    Karen Carter, pharmacist and owner, outside Narrabri Pharmacy.
  • Pharmacist Karen fitting a sleep apnea mask
    Pharmacist Karen fitting a sleep apnea mask.
  • A one-on-one blood pressure check consultation
    A one-on-one blood pressure check consultation.

“We look for the opportunities in our environment.” Karen Carter, pharmacist and owner at Narrabri Pharmacy, has built her pharmacy’s success on incremental change.

Narrabri is located more than 500km northwest of Sydney in the agricultural heartland of NSW. Understanding the local community’s unique needs and challenges was the starting point for Karen in building her pharmacy’s strategy.

"We have a mix of farming and mining. There is a commonality in it, being shift workers, so there’s long hours on tractors or there’s long shifts with miners," she explains.

Pharmacy services are tailored to help her patients focus on preventative and proactive health measures. One example is managing sleep apnea, prevalent among shift workers.

"We do screening, we have an overnight test that people can do from home. This helps save people a couple of hours’ drive to Tamworth - which is a bigger regional area - to have their sleep service," Karen remarks.

The pharmacy also offers onsite vaccinations at local workplaces, including mines and retail centers, ensuring these vital services reach people less likely to seek them out.

With a significant First Nations population in the region, the pharmacy has been able to supply a dose administration aid service under the Indigenous Dose Administration Aids Program.

“You know, there’s relief on people’s faces when we say we’d like to get you to do a Webster-pak, or the doctor suggested you have a Webster-pak and then we say ‘no you don’t have to pay for it. It’s at no charge.’” 

Karen is also looking to employ a First Nations Health Worker by participating in the new HealthWISE pilot program. The seed funding enables provision of First Nations staff with the skills and understanding to support the community to understand and use medication effectively.

Karen uses an active social media presence to increase outreach and has witnessed a significant hike in engagement over the past 18 months. Health promotions and community events are regularly featured on the pharmacy’s channels, building a stronger connection with the community and increasing awareness of available services.

Technological solutions and automation have been pivotal in improving the pharmacy's operational efficiency. The introduction of dispensing and Webster packing robots has streamlined medication management, saving ‘days’ and allowing pharmacists to spend more time on patient care.

"We’ve embraced technology…we’ve got a dispensing robot, we’ve got a Webster packing robot… and that’s just helped us with saving time for the pharmacists and the dispensary staff, but also accuracy and stock management,” Karen says.

"That’s just allowing us to do more for the expanded pharmacy services…that allows us to have one-on-one time with our patients."

Beyond the pharmacy, Karen invests in relationships with other healthcare providers in the region, which enhances continuity of care for patients. Pharmacists at Narrabri Pharmacy work closely with local doctors, sharing medication profiles and coordinating patient care plans.

Their dedication to innovation and excellence in healthcare garnered recognition earlier this year, when Karen and her staff were honored with the Professional Innovation category award as part of the 2024 Guild Pharmacy of the Year award.

The award was presented at the Australian Pharmacy Professional (APP) Conference on the Gold Coast where 7000 pharmacists celebrated the pharmacy’s honour.

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Submitted by Julie F (not verified) on Sun, 06/16/2024 - 17:56

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Rural pharmacists are truly amazing. Good on Karen and her team for doing such an outstanding job. I am curious as to what the dispensing and Webster packing robots look like. They rely on 100% accurate data entry I presume?

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