Supporting Innovation in Pharmacy for a Healthier Canada

Breaking diabetes barriers


APRIL 2021 - Proven quality improvements in practice help pharmacists do more in diabetes follow-ups, shows a research initiative led by the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy's Innovation Fund Grant recipient Lori MacCallum.

Lori MacCallum
Lead researcher Lori MacCallum

In 2020 she and her team published a study that identified barriers preventing diabetes MedsCheck follow-ups in Ontario and then worked with six community pharmacies in different practice settings to implement quality improvement methods.

As a final step, the researchers interviewed participating pharmacists and produced a video they hope will inspire others.

“The video was a way to translate our results as we wanted others to see they could make changes in their own pharmacies too,” says MacCallum, who is a pharmacist and assistant professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto. “It was surprising as many of [the study participants] were owners but had never been through anything like this in terms of learning about quality improvement.”

In the video, both researchers and participating pharmacists talk about the power in simply showing patients the benefits of a MedsCheck Diabetes. MacCallum says the research shows that more than one-third of patients who received a diabetes MedsCheck had had a hospitalization or ER visit due to their disease a year prior. “So even if the new program isn’t specific to diabetes, people with diabetes should be involved and should receive that care,” she says, noting that pharmacists play a key role in the continuity of care necessary for this patient population.

Pharmacist/owner and Certified Diabetes Educator Maggie Cheung says finding ways to document the essential things her staff do every day for patients was an important breakthrough. “Sometimes staff don’t even know their own value…to have this project where we can group together and see what we’re all doing, I think that was valuable.”

MacCallum says this whole process has proved that having quality improvement techniques and processes in community pharmacies is not only doable, it can improve the environment in which pharmacists practice.