MAY 2022 – It has been four years since the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia launched its ground-breaking research project Prescription to Thrive in partnership with Associated Maritime Pharmacies (AMP) Ltd.—and funded in part by the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy. It’s a model that continues to push towards the viability of more pharmacy services in the community and change pharmacy practice as we know it. Robin Ogilvie, director of pharmacy at AMP, explains how the program has evolved over the years and why he expects pharmacy practice change is here to stay.
How have the pilot pharmacies evolved since the program first launched?
Initial participants with the program like our Timberlea pharmacy location, had Glenn Rodrigues (one of the original program coordinators) at the stores very regularly. As subsequent pharmacies came on board for future phases, there was more of a shift to providing resources and remote support primarily with limited on-site time. I believe the lessons learned in the early phases helped inform the best ways to provide that support effectively.
At our stores we’ve had a tremendous shift in how our teams—pharmacists and non-pharmacists—view pharmacy services as a part of their daily routine. As a business, we’ve had to change the way we look at metrics for success. For example, the old model of Rx/hr doesn’t hold up when you start to build real traction with pharmacy services. We’ve had to develop new ways of measuring labour reinvestment to support and grow these services, and still measure efficiency with dispensing operations.
How are you making this a sustainable practice shift going forward?
The initial pilot program aimed to help the teams build comfort and confidence in offering pharmacy services while maximizing dispensing operation efficiency. In Timberlea (and our other early participant stores), I’d argue that we’ve been successfully discharged from the “program” and have made a fundamental shift in the way pharmacy services are incorporated into the day- to-day culture of our group.
We’ve added staffing (both pharmacists and assistants) that wouldn’t have been possible without the revenues from services. The win is that this additional staffing provides strength and depth for the team and continues to support more growth and development of services. The managers now have a financial labour model that they can work within to bring in additional staffing as needed to support the needs of the store and grow pharmacy services even more.
What were some of the biggest challenges along the way?
The pandemic has been hard for all of us and in health care even more so. During the past three years, the main challenge has been managing the ups and downs of COVID-19 vaccine clinics, staff illness, public health mandates, and primary care provider inaccessibility. There have been so many things that have taken focus away from growing pharmacy services. I’m proud of our teams for providing care for our patients in close contact interactions like vaccinations, last minute ‘drop-everything’ renewals, and filling the void in a strained healthcare system.
What are your next steps for Rx to Thrive?
Phase 3 is continuing to serve us well. Each of our stores is unique in its customer base, staffing and community. Continuing to participate with some of our other stores in Phase 3 still gives us new and helpful insights into how we can be successful. Rodriguez has been an expert at providing guidance and tools to empower the teams and leave them in a position where they’re feeling capable of carrying on and excelling at the manifold job of being a pharmacist.
We’re continuing to streamline our operations and build expertise with new and existing services too. I feel excited for our place in the healthcare landscape moving forward.