JULY 2023 —Pharmacists struggling to balance additional services in the pharmacy could be making better use of technology-driven tools developed by their own peers. At the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy’s annual Forum on June 28, 2023, “Scope in Action,” virtual attendees heard from three pharmacists who have developed software tools to better streamline pharmacy services and workflow.
The first presented was a cloud-based, clinical decision-making and implementation tool that facilitates minor ailment prescribing services for pharmacists in Ontario. MAPflow (Minor Ailment Prescribing workflow) was developed by community pharmacist Nardine Nakhla, a clinical lecturer at the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy, who served as a member of the Ontario College of Pharmacists’ Minor Ailments Advisory Group responsible for developing the draft regulations around pharmacists prescribing of minor ailments in the province.
She said the software—which can run on a desktop, laptop or iPad to free up pharmacy terminals—aims to help optimally integrate minor ailment services into practice. “We are all about empowering the individual pharmacist who can be in multiple sites and use their same prescription,” she said. “[This software] helps ensure prescribing is within scope, so it really has the pharmacist covered from a legal and liability standpoint.”
Because the software is integrated with the Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties, there is easy access to drug information. It also prompts for follow-ups and additional clinical services such as smoking cessation and MedsCheck if needed, “taking a holistic approach to ensure the patient is being taken care of from all angles,” said Nakhla. In generating a “patient-friendly” report, she noted that it provides a recap of what was discussed and next steps if needed. Plus, there is substantial time savings. Assessments using the software took an average of eight minutes compared to 15-30 minutes in other jurisdictions.
A MAPflow user since January, community pharmacist Emma Peters said the software gives her additional confidence in knowing she hasn’t missed anything. “Plus, it’s easy to use even for those who aren’t technically savvy,” she said.
Alberta-based Pharmacy Consultant Lawrence Woo said he was inspired to develop Medi-scribe after spending way too many hours every week dealing with paperwork around pharmacy services. Equipped with more than 1,000 curated drug monographs, Medi-scribe’s software provides drug information while pharmacists document, generating a patient specific note—and all the regulatory monitoring required—seamlessly into the pharmacist’s existing software within 30 seconds. “Depending on the service, the documentation with Medi-scribe takes between 15 seconds to three minutes…17 times faster than the most efficient pharmacists we’ve talked to,” he said.
The vast majority (95%) of pharmacists using the software reported feeling more satisfied at work and 90% said it had helped them provide a service they would have been too busy to do otherwise. “We wanted to equip pharmacists with tools so they can fully utilize their scope and spend more time with patients rather than documenting,” he said.
According to Medi-scribe user Dimitri Kachenyuk, pharmacy manager and clinical pharmacist at Primrose I.D.A. in Edmonton, the software has done just that. “[It] has allowed us to document renewals and prescribing activities within seconds even if the patient is on a large number of medications,” he said.
The webinar ended with a presentation from Quebec-based community pharmacist Philippe Chartrand, president of Empego Technologies. This series of software tools, used by hundreds of pharmacists in the province, empowers patients to provide information about their symptoms via specific forms in the waiting room or from home prior to seeing the pharmacist. “So, when the [pharmacists] opens a consultation, before they’ve taken a single second with the patient, they already have their questions answered,” he said. In addition to red flag alerts as needed, the software prompts for follow-ups too.
Among the top ailments patients sought treatment for—as indicated by the various software tools—were urinary tract infections, cold sores, conjunctivitis, allergic rhinitis and smoking cessation.