December 2014 – With an aging population and a healthcare system ill-equipped for chronic disease management, the potential for pharmacy is huge and as yet untapped, was the consensus of a panel representing patient advocacy groups at the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy’s annual Pharmacy Forum.
Representatives from the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, The Arthritis Society (TAS), Osteoporosis Canada and the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) shared their perspectives on what patients need from pharmacists in this new era of expanded services.
“Our goal is to empower people to self-manage their disease and we are not built on a chronic disease or person-centred model,” said Joanne Simons, TAS’ Chief Mission Officer and Executive Director, Ontario. Rather than focusing on prescribing outcomes, she says pharmacists need to be asking better questions to figure out what patients really want and need from them. This year TAS partnered with McKesson Canada to develop accredited online modules for healthcare professionals on the symptoms, management and treatment of arthritis. “People who take the modules will get the stamp of approval that they are arthritis-friendly pharmacists,” she said.
Dr. Famida Jiwa, President and CEO of Osteoporosis Canada, urged pharmacists to do a better job of identifying patients at risk of fracture and to offer pharmacological therapy to those who qualify. “Adherence is a real problem with less than 40% of patients persisting with treatment after one year,” she pointed out. “Pharmacists can help improve quality of life in these patients and help reduce readmissions to hospital.”
Finding pharmacists to champion and collaborate with patient associations is also key, said Joanne Lewis, Manager, Diabetes Education at CDA. “We think of you but don’t reach out because we think you’re too busy,” she told the audience. “If we could get more involvement from you in community groups it would benefit us all.”