Healthcare service delivery transformation to shape the future of medication optimisation

Virtual Hospital Pharmacist Chloe McAinch is sitting in front of a laptop, conducting a Telehealth consult with a patient. She holds a blood pressure monitor, and is explaining it to the patient through the computer.

A new Pharmacist led virtual clinic is transforming the way patients access and manage their medications at Monash Health. 

The clinic, named Optimising One Medication with Patients (OOMPa), is 100 per cent virtual and will help better manage blood pressure in patients with chronic disease with the help of a Bluetooth blood pressure cuff. 

The cuff allows patients to securely send real-time vital sign data to an app on their phone from the comfort of their homes which goes directly back to pharmacists on-site at Monash Health. 

With the data, pharmacists are then able to adjust the dose of their blood pressure medication virtually using a guideline-based protocol – accelerating the process of finding the correct dose of medication for each patient into weeks rather than months. 

Virtual Hospital Pharmacists Sheridan Rodda and Chloe McAinch are co-leading this world-first trial with liver disease patients. 

Ms McAinch said patients would usually see a medical professional for titration of Carvedilol, a blood pressure medication, every three to six months – but were now receiving more intensive monitoring and management at home daily. 

“They now get adjustments to their dose twice a week, which means we can get them taking the right medication at the right dose much faster than the traditional way,” she said. 

“The new process also allows us to constantly monitor for side effects, assess compliance, and patients can see the results of taking their medication in real-time.” 

The clinic is completely virtual and allows patients to access care from the comfort of their own homes.

The new trial also addresses other barriers to patients successfully reaching the correct dose. 

“We sometimes have difficulty getting patients started on their medication and getting them to even take it – as well as finding that right dose,” Ms Rodda said. 

“This happens because sometimes we don’t have as much time as we’d like to fully educate the patient about why they need the medicine, so we find they sometimes either don’t fill their script or stop taking it before they reach the correct dose due to lack of support and results.” 

With the OOMPa clinic and remote patient monitoring, patients are now empowered, educated, and supported to understand why they are taking their medicine. 

“They do the monitoring themselves, so they can see their blood pressure dropping in response to taking the medication, and know they’re very close to the right dose, so it empowers and motivates them to continue knowing that it is making a difference to their body,” Ms Rodda said. 

It’s also the first remote blood pressure monitoring device in Australia to automatically send data back to a tertiary specialist hospital to manage chronic liver disease. 

Associate Professor Suong Le, a Gastroenterologist responsible for the clinical management of these patients, said the patients in the trial were very pleased with the level of care. 

“A lot of patients can’t afford to take time off work or lack transport options to attend the hospital, so patients in this program are incredibly grateful to receive what they consider to be world-class, innovative and safe care in their own homes,” she said. 

“It’s doing so well that some of our patients are even sending back results more frequently than required.” 

The program is also to the best of our knowledge the first in the world to see pharmacists in partnership with a specialist lead the virtual titration of a medication – where a doctor would normally perform this role alone. 

Associate Professor Le said there was a huge possibility for the device to be scaled-up for use in other diseases after the trial. 

“This could be a game-changer for many other diseases like cardiac conditions, managing diabetes and respiratory conditions,” she said. 

“It also provides preliminary evidence that when we bring trials to the patients rather than expecting the patient to come to the hospital, we can successfully recruit and retain patients who face significant logistical barriers to participation – and this can only improve healthcare equity.” 

The virtual clinic is a collaboration between the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Monash Health Pharmacy and Hospital in the Home.