Supporting Innovation in Pharmacy for a Healthier Canada

Innovation Gala panelists speak to pharmacy's future


Ashesh Desai, Executive Vice-President of Pharmacy at Shoppers Drug Mart shares the stage with Dr Lisa Dolovich from the Ontario Pharmacy Evidence Network.

MAY 2019 - In order to survive the 21st century, pharmacy has to make critical changes—and fast, heard attendees at this year’s Innovation Showcase hosted by the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy in Toronto this past April.

In keeping with the night’s theme, Building Bridges for Better Care, panelists spoke to the need for better integration of pharmacists into the healthcare team. “Figuring out how to work together is a key strategy that is taking hold in jurisdictions across the country,” said pharmacist Lisa Dolovich, an executive member of the Ontario Pharmacy Evidence Network. 

As co-author of the recent report, Pharmacy in the 21st Century: Transformational change ahead, Dolovich spoke to the need for “sustainable organizational change,” where the pharmacy team in whatever setting it lands will need to ensure that care processes are connected across the board. “If the patient is at the centre of care, how do we ensure we can [actually] deliver comprehensive care.”

Leveraging technology will be a key part of reaching patients more effectively, noted panelist Ashesh Desai, Executive Vice-President of Pharmacy at Shoppers Drug Mart. “The healthcare system is changing quickly, and this demands a different way of interaction,” he said. “Every day there are new healthcare apps that allow patients to better manage their meds and their health, and that’s not going to change.”

Desai spoke to technology advancements such as smartphone apps and central fill pharmacy services as ways to encourage pharmacists to engage with patients differently. “We need to help the profession embrace change, and provide support so they feel comfortable taking their practice to the next level,” he said, adding that those provinces with advanced pharmacy services in place already need to deliver because they’re setting a standard. "Others are looking to them for evidence to be able to implement their own services.”

Several past Innovation Fund recipients in attendance provided updates on research initiatives funded by CFP that are aimed at finding the solutions needed to propel the profession forward. 

Among them, Dean Miller of Whole Health Pharmacy provided some early research results around appointment-based pharmacy models. While the research shows that the number of pharmacy visits decreased with this type of model, the number of scripts stayed neutral or even increased. “Workflow and efficiency also improved and this [model] reduces drug shortages, multiple home deliveries and third-party billing issues,” he said.

2016 grant recipient Sara Guilcher from the University of Toronto spoke to her research on the feasibility of expanding the Acute care to Community Pharmacy Communication Link (ACC-Link), a communications tool developed to improve medication management across transitions of care.

Meanwhile pharmacist/owner John Papastergiou, whose team is looking at vaccination adherence rates when pharmacists initiate these conversations with patients, spoke to the missed opportunities in this space. “When it comes to vaccinations, the research shows us we are losing patients along the way and we have to figure out what we can do to get those [adherence] numbers higher,” he said. 

Over the past four years, CFP has provided more than $400,000 in research grants to new and experienced Canadian researchers. “Our goal is to make even more funds available every year because now, more than ever, we need evidence of the cost-effectiveness of pharmacy services,” said CFP President Bill Wilson.

Find more information on CFP’s Innovation Fund grants here.