JANUARY 2020 – Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy Wellspring Award winner Alexander Chagnon, founder and CEO of THERappX, believes that healthcare apps are key for pharmacists to work more closely with their patients and in so doing embrace an expanded scope of practice. To help make this a reality, Chagnon has produced an online, bilingual accredited webinar entitled, “Improving pharmacists’ cognitive services efficiency with technology.”
Thanks to the funding received from CFP, the course is available at no cost to pharmacists. Click here to access the webinar.
More than 170,000 health and wellness apps are available in Canada, and research by PricewaterhouseCoopers indicates that more than 60% of doctors have discussed or “prescribed” apps for their patients. Chagnon’s goal is to provide resources, such as the webinar, so that pharmacists can be comfortable “prescribing” apps as well.
“Two years ago, I started working to find the best available apps out there. What I’m discussing in this webinar is how, as a pharmacist, I can recommend the best available app for a particular patient,” says Chagnon.
One of the apps cited for making a real difference is for people with insomnia. According to Canada Health guidelines, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a first line of treatment for insomnia but face-to-face access to practitioners is often a challenge.
“There are apps out there that can effectively provide CBT to patients and pharmacists can and will be able to ‘prescribe’ these apps. By ‘prescribing’ [I mean that] I have vetted the app. And the power of a physical ‘prescription’ goes the extra mile in getting patients to use the app and be engaged,” says Chagnon, since adherence rates are higher when recommendations are written, as opposed to verbal only.
What’s next for Chagnon? He recently began collaborating with Line Guenette, researcher at Laval University, who received a grant in 2016 from CFP’s Innovation Fund to develop evidence-based digital tools for pharmacists to improve medication adherence. She and Chagnon have obtained funding from MEDTEQ, also known as the Quebec Consortium for Industrial Research and Innovation in Medical Technology, part of the Government of Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence program, to further help pharmacists incorporate healthcare apps into their daily interactions with patients.
And that’s not the only thing to get excited about when it comes to healthcare apps. “What is great about apps is that they’re an awesome way to collect a lot of data from our patients. By collecting data from patients, by providing advice and these services, we have the proof that we’re helping. It’s really exciting,” says Chagnon.
On a related note, in 2019 CFP awarded an Innovation Fund grant to Phillipe Vincent at the University of Montreal. His research team is developing a custom app for patients with depression, which is supported by pharmacist coaching services.