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MedsChecks persevere in Ontario

MedsChecks persevere in Ontario | Picture of several bottles of prescription drugs right next to each other - The Canadian Foundation For Pharmacy

MedsChecks persevere in Ontario

JANUARY 2022 – Pharmacists in Ontario did not miss a beat in the provision of MedsCheck annual medication reviews during the first year of the pandemic. In fact, claims for the service increased by 12%.

In January 2022, the Ontario government released claims data for the 2020-2021 fiscal year (ending March 31, 2021). Pharmacies submitted claims for 497,197 annual MedsCheck reviews in 2020-2021, up 12% from 442,900 in 2019-2020. This marks the second year of double-digit growth after new documentation requirements in 2016 saw claims plummet, from a high of 779,934 in 2014-2015 to 401,400 in 2018-2019.

(Click here for more on the impact of the documentation requirements.)

During the early months of the pandemic, Ontario was one of six provinces to enable pharmacists to provide and bill for virtual services, by phone or video call (for details, see CFP’s COVID-19 chart). 

“We continue to proactively reach out to people we haven’t seen for a while, especially seniors. They are always happy to hear from us,” says Linda Prytula, pharmacist at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Oakville and a Past-President of the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy. “It starts as a call to see how they are doing, and if they are due for a MedsCheck annual or a follow-up we offer to do that over the phone.”

Claims data for MedsChecks for Diabetes also show a marked turnaround. From a high of 240,806 claims in 2015-2016 to a low of 88,192 in 2018-2019, claims rebounded by 17% in 2019-2020 (103,171) and 22% in 2020-2021 (125,506).

(Click here for more research on MedsCheck for Diabetes, funded by CFP’s Innovation Fund.)

Pharmaceutical Opinions

However, the story is very different for Pharmaceutical Opinions. After six years of relatively steady claims, ranging from about 330,000 to 350,000 annually, the number dived by 43% to 191,733 claims for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021.

Since Opinions require sign-off by prescribing physicians, the sharp decline likely reflects COVID’s impact on usual procedures in both pharmacies and physicians’ offices. As well, effective January 1, 2020, pharmacies could no longer submit claims for residents of long-term care facilities.

(Click here for more analysis of the 2020-2021 claims data across all provinces.)

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