JongNVZA and VJA – Dutch Pharmacists
Healthcare professionals face disruptions in their day-to-day lives, and solutions are sometimes difficult to find. The KNMP (Royal Dutch Pharmacy Organisation) identified key challenges that pharmacists in the Netherlands regularly encounter: poorly shared case information; difficulty contacting other professionals; and a lack of secure means to communicate patient information.
These problems affect pharmacists all over the country. In partnership with JongNVZA (Junior Department of Dutch Association of Hospital Pharmacists) and the VJA (Association of Young Pharmacists), KNMP decided to bring in Siilo to change how pharmacists communicated with each other.
A national Siilo chat group called ‘Apothekers; Over de muren’ (‘Pharmacists: Over the Walls’) was set up at the end of 2017 and currently boasts over 2700 members. With hundreds of active users, the group routinely provides solutions to challenges pharmacists face in their daily lives.
Solving practical issues
When patients arrive at their pharmacists to fill a prescription, they expect their medication to be in stock. What can a pharmacist do when it’s not?
Iris Zuydgeest, a young pharmacist based in Leiden, recounts a case where Siilo’s instant connections ensured a patient could go home with her medication:
‘This morning in our Siilo group, an outpatient pharmacist said, “Triumeq® is not available and my patient has none left.” When asked about a possible solution, a quick response followed. “Triumeq is available with me! Just contact your wholesaler.” A public pharmacist from Amsterdam turned out to have a box. Problem solved.’
Avoiding unnecessary procedures
Receiving care can feel like a singular experience to most patients, but many people can often have similar conditions. Professionals have few ways of securely sharing details about their cases, though, and this can lead to unnecessary procedures for patients. Thanks to the Siilo group, however, pharmacists can share cases between each other and provide answers to questions before procedures can even happen.
Anke Kylstra, AIOS Hospital Pharmacy in the Maxima Medical Center, JongNVZA board member, illustrates such a case: a fellow hospital pharmacist encountered an ICU patient with a pancytopenia due to azathioprine use. They were considering dialysis and posted their case in the Siilo group, hoping someone else had experience with a similar case. Some members were able to comment on the case, but no concrete solution was reached. The hospital pharmacist proceeded with dialysis.
In the same week, a pharmacist in another hospital came across the same issue. They checked the established case in Siilo and posted about their own situation. The case originator promptly responded that dialysis was not a solution to this type of pancytopenia. The second hospital’s patient was spared an unnecessary dialysis that, without information provided through Siilo, could have been ordered.
Breaking down communication barriers
Healthcare professionals need to communicate with each other to take care of patience, but all sorts of things can get in the way of clear, effective and quick sharing of information. Members of the Siilo working group can share multiple examples of how Siilo provides simple solutions to their communication issues.
Joost van Roosmalen, a public pharmacist working in Den Bosch, admits that, ‘Sometimes I was unable to reach a doctor outside the opening hours of the practice,’ but Siilo solved that problem. ‘A lady recently came to get medication for her partner, but the prescriber had forgotten to send the prescription. It was Friday night.’ van Roosmalen got in touch with the doctor via Siilo and received an immediate response with the right information. ‘The lady went home with the right medicines for the weekend.’
Pharmacist Aris Prins from Poeldijk recounts a similar experience: ‘All GPs in my FTO group are in one place. It’s super handy. If I miss a lab value, I send a message to the doctor via Siilo. This ensures better medication monitoring. You can quickly and safely talk to a doctor about a dosage or medication change.’ Since Siilo doesn’t need phone numbers for making contacts, it’s even easier for Prins to find the specialist. ‘This is particularly useful with hospital prescriptions because the AIOS prescribes the prescription.’
Frédérique Fiévez, a public pharmacist in Bunnik, also loves the ease and safety of communicating with FTO colleagues through Siilo. ‘Siilo is incredibly useful if you need a quick answer to a substantive question.’ She notes, however, that setting boundaries is important with this new form of communication. Just because Siilo is non-disruptive by design doesn’t mean that receiving messages can’t still intrude on personal time. ‘It is characteristic of pharmacists to respond at all times, to want to resolve issues immediately,’ Fiévez admits. ‘Be aware that it is possible that you may disturb the other person at times and consider whether or not to contact them at all.’
Siilo is quickly gaining ground
Siilo makes online contact easy. Healthcare professionals can approach each other without having each other’s mobile numbers and without even being in the same region. Location no longer prevents information from being shared between colleagues. This means patient care can only improve.
Thanks to Siilo, pharmacists all over the Netherlands are able to solve practical issues with minimal effort, avoid putting patients through unnecessary procedures and break down traditional communication barriers between colleagues. JongNVZA and VJA plan to expand the national chat group with regional chat groups to facilitate regional colleagues getting to know each other both on- and offline.
With more communication through Siilo, faster and better solutions for pharmacists and patients alike are guaranteed in the future.