Around a third of patients feel they’re not well-informed about their disease and treatment options. Specialist pharmacists are perfectly placed to advise patients, helping to identify the symptoms and management of pulmonary fibrosis.
The National Interstitial Lung Disease Pharmacist Network was set up in 2019 to bring together specialist ILD pharmacists and respiratory pharmacists with a role or interest in managing patients with pulmonary fibrosis. All the specialist ILD centres across the country are represented in the network.
Marium Naqvi, Specialist ILD Pharmacist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust and Chair of the National ILD Pharmacist Network, talks about how pharmacists can help...
What’s the aim of the Pharmacist Network?
The ultimate aim is to share best practice across the UK and improve services for all pulmonary fibrosis patients. It focuses on really strengthening the role of the pharmacist in ILD care. This includes designing pharmacy standards and sharing information among pharmacists on new developments. The pharmacists also support research in ILD – there are a number of projects in the pipeline
How can pharmacists support patients?
Pharmacists working in specialist centres can support patients in a variety of ways including; treatment options, advice on preventing and managing potential side effects of medicines, and overseeing the prescribing and supply of medicines. The pharmacist may also undertake a personalised medicine review to check for interactions, optimise prescribed medicines, and de-prescribe inappropriate medicines.
Although non-specialist pharmacists are not usually directly involved in managing ILD patients, they have a key role to play in referring patients for investigation if they present with breathlessness, dry persistent cough or other symptoms of ILD. They may also be asked for advice and support on other prescribed medicines, to check for drug interactions with newly prescribed medicines or potential side effects.
The role of the pharmacist has changed since the pandemic. Many now consult patients remotely via video or telephone, with patients using home monitoring devices, such as spirometers and oximeters. In some cases remote monitoring portals, like patientMpower, are used to improve patient care. Pulmonary fibrosis patients often have complex requirements and pharmacists are well placed to support multidisciplinary teams offering integrated and local care.
Sharing care with local teams and including a pharmacist in the patient pathway ensures the most appropriate skills and knowledge are used to provide the best outcomes for patients.
Do ask your pharmacist for advice! Follow us on Twitter @ILDpharmacy for updates on our network, pharmacy standards and research.