By Carla Beaton, BSc Phm, VP Quality Improvements & Innovations, Pharmapod
The pandemic proved that pharmacists can – and should – play a greater role in the delivery of healthcare in Canada. As hospitals and clinics across the country were overwhelmed with COVID, pharmacists stepped up to help immunize the population, saving lives while helping to control infection rates and slow the spread.
Fortunately, the government of Ontario announced that effective January 1, 2023, it will be allowing pharmacists to expand their scope of practice and treat patients for a number of minor ailments, including:
- Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
- Candidal stomatitis (oral thrush)
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye: bacterial, allergic and viral)
- Dermatitis (atopic, eczema, allergic and contact)
- Dysmenorrhea (severe and frequent menstrual cramping)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Herpes labialis (cold sores)
- Insect bites and urticaria (hives)
- Tick bites, post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent Lyme disease
- Musculoskeletal sprains and strains
- Urinary tract infections (uncomplicated)
This is long-awaited and welcome news for numerous reasons; allowing pharmacists to expand their scope of practice will provide patients with better, faster access to care and will help relieve some pressure on our strained healthcare system.
Faster Care, Lower Cost
Accessing care at a community pharmacy will be ideal for many Canadians – nearly 60 percent live within 1 km walking distance from a pharmacy, meaning they’re often more accessible than hospitals or clinics. Having the ability to receive care for minor ailments also eliminates the need to visit a walk-in clinic, make an appointment with a family doctor, which can take as long as seven days in some instances, or wait hours in an emergency room for treatment (average wait time in Canada is 2-4 hours, though numbers have spiked in many communities in recent months as a result of staffing shortages).
Diverting patients from emergency rooms will also help relieve some of the burden on our strained healthcare system. A recent study found that nearly 35 percent of avoidable ER visits could be managed by allowing pharmacists to prescribe for and treat minor health issues. It can also help save provinces millions in healthcare costs – one study found that Ontario could save upwards of $42 million a year by allowing pharmacists to expand their scope of practice.
How Can Pharmacists Succeed in their New Role?
Countless studies have shown that pharmacist involvement in patient care can lead to improved patient health outcomes, but to succeed as we expand our scope of practice, it’s critical that pharmacists have the right digital tools to efficiently conduct this work.
Pharmacists, like nurses and physicians, are under pressure to do more with less staff, and inflation is squeezing the profit margins for pharmacies. One innovative way to solve this problem is to work smarter, remove duplication of work and utilize a seamless paperless system to create a continuum of care for patients, rather than just transactional, one-off experiences. With this expanded scope of practice, pharmacists have a new opportunity for private pay income. The environment post the beginning of the pandemic has made virtual visits and paying for healthcare that is timely and accessible, more common and accepted by the public.
Pharmapod data from Canadian pharmacies shows that missing or incorrect patient information as well as faulty patient/caregiver communication are the two leading factors resulting in moderate to severe patient harm. Timely and accessible communication as well as patient collaboration will play a big role in expanded scope clinical services. Digital communications with your patients about their ailments, their health goals, and follow-up to ensure treatment is going as expected enhances the live/virtual appointment. Continued connectivity, rather than transactional experiences will grow patient loyalty and result in improved adherence.
Utilizing digital tools with built-in workflows will help keep you organized and ensure patient follow-ups are completed when necessary. It will also allow you to document important notes about patients so you can improve care moving forward.
How the Pharmapod Platform Can Help
Pharmapod’s platform offers a number of features thoughtfully designed to help you deliver the ‘pharmacy of the future’ and succeed as you expand your scope of practice, including:
Enhanced booking system and remote eligibility process: completed before you meet the patient, saving time and resources
Digitized clinical workflow, patient engagement for patient centered profiles and document management: drives quality, saves time and reduces risk
Analytics & exporting data: measure and trend your pharmacy services, quality and compliance to work smarter
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Want to learn more about how Pharmapod’s platform can help as you expand your scope of practice? Contact us today for your personalized demo and see why we’re the software of choice for over 65 percent of pharmacies in Canada.
Pharmapod is a member of the Think Research family of companies.
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