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Pharmacy associations build united front

Pharmacy associations build united front

JANUARY 2014 – Like two sides of a coin, Canada’s two national pharmacy associations appear determined to fulfill complementary mandates in order to support pharmacy’s transition to new models in both business and professional practice. Both also point to the pivotal role of provincial pharmacy associations, which are key to execution at the grassroots.

“There is so much work to be done. We need to work together and eliminate duplication,” said Denise Carpenter, president and CEO the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS) during a panel discussion hosted by the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy during its recent Pharmacy Forum event. She was joined by Perry Eisenschmid, CEO of the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA), and Dennis Darby, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA).

With an eye on influencing policy and legislation, CACDS advocates for the sustainability of pharmacy under a model that will eventually centre on professional services. To do this, however, it knows it must marry its goals with those of government. “Governments are looking for immediate savings as well as long-term systemic savings. CACDS needs to work with them to create those savings by demonstrating that pharmacists are the right people in the right place at the right time,” said Carpenter, adding that “we need to convince governments we are part of the healthcare team and build relationships outside of the drug benefits budget. That’s no small feat.”

CACDS’s 9,000 Points of Care is a “policy platform” that maps out how greater investments in pharmacist services would meet governments’ objectives for more cost-effective healthcare delivery. “We have had complete commitment and understanding from all of the provincial pharmacy associations, and governments have agreed this is a good policy direction. Now we as an industry have to implement,” said Carpenter.

To help lay the foundation, CACDS is conducting “mental model” or behavioural research on four stakeholders: women, payers, patient groups and pharmacists. Again, this research is aligned with the objectives of the Health Care Innovation Working Group of the Council of the Federation, comprised of Canada’s 13 provincial and territorial premiers. “We’re giving governments something they need but couldn’t do themselves, and we’re sharing the research with them as we go,” said Carpenter.

For its part, CPhA is focusing on the professional-practice side of the equation by working with provincial pharmacy associations to provide tools that help pharmacists implement services and overcome change-management barriers. A new governance structure defines the associations as CPhA’s direct members, rather than individual pharmacists, in part to enable the dissemination of information and programs through existing provincial channels. As well, “we are looking to share products and costs in order to increase efficiencies,” said Eisenschmid. “We also see a strong role to coordinate efforts and resources during provincial government negotiations.”

“There is definitely a role for the national bodies to help us help our members,” noted Darby, who presented key findings from OPA’s report, Understanding the Value of Expanded Pharmacist Authority in Ontario. While there is growing evidence to support pharmacists’ expanding role, he added that “a lot of pharmacists are feeling overwhelmed and relatively powerless. We can help them get a sense of power back so they want to do more.”

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