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QR codes for medication education

QR codes for medication education | Male holding a smartphone with a QR code on the screen - Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy

QR codes for medication education

Imagine patients being able to scan a QR code on their prescription vial to access a brief educational video about their medication—and in multiple languages, to boot.

You might not have to imagine this scenario much longer, thanks to a quartet of enterprising pharmacists and funding support from the new Nashat Family Community Pharmacy Fund, administered by the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy (CFP).

QR-coded educational videos were the brainchild of Sammu Dhaliwall, a hospital pharmacist at North West Telepharmacy Solutions who also occasionally works as a relief pharmacist in community practice. When he ran the idea by several community-pharmacist colleagues, they immediately jumped on board and the four of them established QRx Digital, a separate business dedicated to the project.

Navdeep Singh - Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy
Navdeep Singh

“QRx Digital was founded with the goal to help patients have timely access to information about their medications, to improve patient health literacy and compliance, and to ensure a more engaged patient experience,” says Navdeep Singh, one of the founders and a staff pharmacist at Sandalwood Care Pharmacy in Brampton, Ont.

In 2022, the QRx Digital team self-funded and created 10 videos to start, each on a top generic medication dispensed in Canada and all of them in English. Singh gathered feedback from her patients to improve upon the videos’ content. While doing this, she and her QRx Digital colleagues also realized how valuable the videos would be in other languages.

“We felt from our practice needs we wanted a product that resonated with patients who don’t speak English as a first language,” says Singh.

However, they needed additional funding to create more videos in multiple languages. They also needed additional funds to seamlessly incorporate the QR codes, which at this point need to be affixed as stickers to prescription vials. “Eventually the QR code will be embedded in the drug file and printed as part of the prescription label,” says Singh.

Finally, funding was necessary for evidence-based research to demonstrate proof of concept, to lay a strong foundation for expansion to other pharmacies. The team brought in Dr. Tejal Patel, Clinical Associate Professor at University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy, to oversee the research study.

Enter the Nashat Family Community Pharmacy Fund, part of CFP’s long-standing Innovation Fund. The new Community Pharmacy Fund aims to empower community pharmacies to explore and validate new services, technologies, and patient care models that can demonstrably improve health outcomes as well operational efficiency within the pharmacy.

“The Nashat family created this fund to bridge the gap between innovative ideas and their implementation in community pharmacy,” says Dr. Michael Nashat, a second-generation pharmacist along with his brother Robert. Their father, Magdy, opened his first pharmacy in Canada in 1997.

QRx Digital is thrilled to lead the way as the fund’s first recipient. “We are very thankful to the Nashat family for this grant and to the CFP Board for selecting us,” says Singh, who is the lead investigator for the research. 

“We feel that because these videos are designed by practicing pharmacists, the pharmacy team will feel confident that this patient education tool is coming from a trustworthy and reliable source,” she adds.

The QRx team will translate the videos in Punjabi and Portuguese to start, two common languages among patients at BramCity Pharmacy in Brampton, Ont., site of the pilot project. The translated videos for the pilot study will focus on the medications of atorvastatin, metoprolol and ramipril.

The research will be a combination of surveys, focus groups and one-on-one interviews to assess the patient experience as well as the impact on workflow for the pharmacy team. The goal is for results to be published in 2025.

Based on the study results, “we will expand the number of languages for translated videos and then roll this out to more pharmacies to be incorporated into their service offerings,” says Singh. “If there are any pharmacies interested in becoming early-adopter partners, we would love to hear from you.”

Interested pharmacists can contact QRx Digital at info@qrxdigital.ca.

Michael Nashat

“We hope to have them available in about 10 languages,” adds Singh. “Our videos will be one of the first multi-language videos that have taken cultural context into account.” Eligibility for the Nashat Community Pharmacy Fund extends to community pharmacists and researchers “collaborating and committed to conducting practical, ROI-focused research on innovative practices that have the potential for wide-scale application across the pharmacy profession,” says Nashat. For details on how to apply, contact Linda Prytula, CFP’s Executive Director, at lprytula@cfpnet.ca.

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