Supporting Innovation in Pharmacy for a Healthier Canada

Ontario OPENs door to research

APRIL 2014 - A large-scale research program to study the value of pharmacists' services in Ontario is well underway, with completion scheduled for mid 2016.

In May 2013 the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced more than $5.7 million in funding for a range of research projects over three years, which collectively make up the Ontario Pharmacy Research Collaboration (OPEN). Professor Nancy Waite at the University of Waterloo and Professor Lisa Dolovich at McMaster University are leading OPEN, joined by researchers from the University of Toronto, Western University and the Bruyere Research Institute. The advisory committee includes representatives for Ontario Pharmacists Association, Ontario College of Pharmacists, Canadian Pharmacists Association and the health ministry.

OPEN is studying the quality, outcomes and value of three existing provincially funded pharmacist services: medication management (captured under the MedsCheck and Pharmaceutical Opinion programs); prescription renewals and adaptations; and immunizations. It is also exploring three possible future roles for pharmacists in the areas of chronic pain management, deprescribing for the elderly and prescribing for minor ailments.

The study on Pharmaceutical Opinions and MedsCheck (focussing on MedsCheck annual reviews and MedsCheck for Diabetes reviews) is occurring over three years and has received $1 million in funding, making it the largest OPEN project. "The study's objectives are to assess the quality and impact of these services on patients, physicians, pharmacies and pharmacists to determine whether these services are reaching those most likely to benefit, and to identify determinants of service uptake," says Linda MacKeigan, Professor at the Lesley Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, and lead researcher, with co-lead Dolovich.

Researchers are currently interviewing "key informants," including independent pharmacy owners and corporate pharmacy managers and executives, to learn implementation strategies. They are also conducting "a descriptive analysis of claims data," says MacKeigan. "Other planned components of the research are surveys and interviews with patient, physicians and pharmacists as well as an audit of service documentation to identify pharmacists' interventions."

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