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Innovation Fund: online learning for POCT

Profile image of Kelly Grindrod | The Canadian Foundation For Pharmacy

Innovation Fund: online learning for POCT

FEBRUARY 2023 – Online learning exploded during the pandemic as in-person education gave way to a variety of virtual meeting platforms. CFP’s 2022 Innovation Fund recipient, Kelly Grindrod, aims to determine if computer-based education (CBE) can help Ontario pharmacists provide point-of-care testing (POCT) for patients.

As of July 2022, pharmacists, registered pharmacy students, and interns in Ontario were authorized to perform POCT to assist patients with the management of their medication(s) to treat chronic disease. “The pandemic has pushed a lot of learning online and many people have a better appreciation for the role online learning can play in professional development,” says Grindrod, who is associate professor at the University of Waterloo.

But at the same time, she says pharmacists’ scopes of practice have expanded so there needs to be effective training options that can reach many people, regardless of geography and work schedules. “As we all adjust to a more hybrid approach of both online and in-person education, we need to find the most efficient ways to learn and maintain our new and evolving skills,” she says.

Over the next year, Grindrod and her team will see if an inexpensive scalable CBE intervention—using the Pharmacy5in5 interactive learning platform developed by the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy—will improve pharmacist behaviour in POCT. To date, evaluation of CBE use among healthcare professionals has been focused primarily on physicians and nurses.

As pharmacists are still in the early days of POCT in Ontario, they need to find ways to examine the evidence of the different devices and decide if it’s worth adding them to daily practice, says Grindrod. “For pharmacists, point-of-care testing is as much about what to do and how to do it as about why it should be done at all.”

The real challenge right now, she adds, is deciding which POC tests to focus on. She cites the rapid update of POC COVID testing, which lent itself well to Paxlovid prescribing, while POCT also has important potential roles in diabetes, heart disease, and drug monitoring. “Our challenge is figuring out the highest-impact tests for pharmacists right now.”

At the completion of the project, Grindrod says she hopes to see pharmacists “adopt a new skill and find some comfort in offering point-of-care testing in daily practice.”

The goal with any innovation is to find ways to offer the service without adding to the daily workload, says Grindrod. “We will be keen to learn from frontline pharmacists on the ways point-of-care testing helps them in daily life, and the tricky spots where it can complicate their days.”  

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