JANUARY 2020 – Several initiatives across the country are proving that alternative approaches to pharmacy practice can be successful, heard attendees at the Pharmacy Forum conference hosted by the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy in November 2019.
One example is the Prescription to Thrive project from the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia (PANS), which has shown that improving efficiencies in the pharmacy, even to a small degree, will give pharmacists more time to focus on patient care. These improvements could entail setting up a medication synchronization program for chronic medication refills or teaching staff how to use software properly. “Pharmacy is not great at supporting the training of help (technicians) or looking at how to improve workflow,” said Glenn Rodrigues, Pharmacy Practice Facilitator for the program. “If [pharmacies] aren’t actively doing things to build efficiencies, they don’t move forward.”
Given the fact that one owner made a request to PANS to extend the project for another six months after phase one ended in November, shows that there’s real value there, added Rodrigues.
He also stressed the need to look at pharmacist hours as an investment in growth, rather than an expense. “The biggest threat to our profession is not doing clinical services well or not even offering them in the first place.”
Another new approach to pharmacy practice showing positive outcomes so far is the Appointment-Based Model being tested through the Whole Health Pharmacy banner with researcher Lisa Dolovich at the University of Toronto. Two years in and the model—which uses medication synchronization to coordinate refills for chronic medication and regular pharmacist appointments with patients at pickup—has not only had a positive impact on medication adherence and immunization rates, but 80% of participating patients say they would recommend the ABM to others, said Tiana Tilli, Director Pharmacy Innovation and Professional Affairs at Whole Health Pharmacy Partners.
“By the six-month mark I was getting concerned as it was too quiet, but we’re actually filling more scripts now and have a much more efficient workflow,” she said.
Tilli told Forum attendees that medication synchronization allows pharmacies to be proactive instead of reactive. Plus, having patients come in for scheduled appointments in regular intervals, gives pharmacists the chance to get a full clinical picture and optimize therapy accordingly. “Having private consultations with patients makes them the centre of their care, and pharmacists can make sure medications are safe and effective,” she said. “It’s also increasing trust between prescribers and pharmacists.”