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Past Innovation Fund projects show potential for further benefit

Past Innovation Fund projects show potential for further benefit

Plan sponsors have to consider new investments in healthcare services for long-term cost savings. At least that’s what the latest research from one project supported by the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy’s Innovation Fund is indicating.

The six-month, pharmacist-led hypertension management program led by the Ontario Pharmacists Association and Green Shield Canada showed a dramatic improvement in the blood pressure levels of patients who received targeted pharmacist services.

In fact, David Willows, Vice-President Strategic Market Solutions at Green Shield Canada, said medication costs were reduced by 31% when blood pressure was under control. 

“We just turned a few high-cost claimants into normal claimants,” said Willows, speaking at CFP’s 2014 Innovation Gala in Toronto in May. While high-priced biologics may be driving up costs, he says the vast majority of high-cost claimants are those with chronic diseases that could be impacted by healthcare services and lifestyle changes.

“We think this kind of research does suggest that where there is value there should be investment,” says Willows. “And we’ve been hearing more than ever before that plan sponsors are ready to have this discussion.”

In the meantime, a research project by Certina Ho, Project Manager at ISMP Canada and Adjunct Professor at the University of Waterloo, is looking at how community pharmacies can help reduce hospitalizations due to drug-drug interactions (DDIs) using ISMP safety alerts and other resources.

Ho, who was a 2012 Innovation Fund grant recipient, said the study identified eight antibiotic-related DDIs that are common in the community setting. The idea is that the pharmacist can use an ISMP safety alert as a standardized checklist and then intervene at point of care if needed and later bill for his/her pharmaceutical opinion.

She and her team are now providing resources to participating pharmacies and are following up monthly to determine the number of POPs conducted. They will also be leading a focus group to figure out how to expand the program to other provinces. Ho is encouraging other pharmacists who are interested in participating to get in touch via ISMP Canada.

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