But the Province Still Lags Behind Other Jurisdictions when it Comes to Pharmacy Services
(NC) If you’ve been going to your pharmacist for just prescriptions, you have been missing out on an assortment of services that your local pharmacist can provide for you – and their vision for the future could help even more patients achieve their health outcomes.
Beyond filling prescriptions, the role of Ontario’s pharmacists also includes:
• Administering flu shots
• Providing smoking cessation counselling and prescribing medications (when appropriate) to support some patients who want to quit smoking
• Providing MedsCheck medication reviews at no charge for eligible patients
• Adapting and renewing prescriptions (when appropriate)
• Helping patients meet their health and wellness goals by providing information and support on a wide variety of health-related topics
“Pharmacists are the medication experts on your healthcare team, but we’re also available to provide services over and above filling your prescriptions – from doing a MedsCheck review or giving you the flu shot, to helping you quit smoking or better manage your diabetes,” notes Sean Simpson, Chair of the Board at the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA). “But there is so much more pharmacists could be doing to improve patient outcomes if the role of pharmacists in Ontario was expanded to include some of the services that are available through pharmacies in other provinces.”
In almost every other province, patients can visit their pharmacist for immunizations beyond just flu shots, as well as for the assessment and treatment of common ailments like pink eye, eczema or diaper rash – ensuring that non-critical patients don’t tie up emergency rooms and doctors’ offices. Currently, Ontario is one of only a few provinces that hasn’t expanded pharmacists’ role in these ways.
“As pharmacists, we have the skills and the knowledge to offer even more healthcare services to our patients and to play an even larger role in improving patient health outcomes,” said Simpson. “You just have to look at the success of vaccination programs and common ailments programs in other jurisdictions to see that patients trust their pharmacists to support their health and wellbeing in so many ways over and above medication management.”
By leveraging the unique expertise and accessibility of pharmacy professionals, Ontario has the opportunity to reduce healthcare costs and reallocate system resources to where they are most needed and will ultimately improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare system.
By the numbers:
• Treating minor ailments and administering vaccines beyond the flu shot could prevent up to 600,000 emergency room visits, 1,500 hospitalizations and free up 2.4 million physician hours to focus on more critical care.
• A provincial common (or minor) ailments program would redirect treatment of non-critical patients from family physicians, walk in clinics, and the emergency room, reducing costly emergency room visits and easing hospital wait times.
– A 2012 Accenture study found a possible $12.3 million cost savings to Ontario over five years if pharmacists were enabled to treat common ailments.
• Extending the pharmacy-based smoking cessation program for all smokers in Ontario would lead to significant savings and decrease the risks associated with smoking related diseases and hospital use.
– The expansion could result in a $360 million cost savings over 30 years according to a 2012 study by Accenture.
• By allowing pharmacists to provide routine injections and by making immunizations more accessible and convenient (beyond the flu shot), Ontario will increase vaccination rates and keep patients out of doctor’s offices and hospitals.
– Twenty-eight per cent of people who received the flu shot said they would not have been immunized if the pharmacy program was not available.
If you’re wondering what else pharmacists can do for patients, go in to your local pharmacy and get to know your pharmacist better – they are your true partner in health.
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