June 26, 2019 (TORONTO) — The Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA) welcomes the second report issued today by Premier Ford’s Council on Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine and looks forward to being part of the solution to improving the design and delivery of services in Ontario so that patients receive the right care, at the right time and in the right setting.
The report provides 10 policy recommendations and associated actions that focus on four themes: integration, innovation, efficiency and alignment, and capacity – all strategically linked to achieve the objectives of the internationally recognized quadruple aim of healthcare:
- Improving the patient and caregiver experience;
- Improving the health of populations;
- Reducing the per capita cost of healthcare while striving for value for money invested; and,
- Improving the provider experience.
“A number of the recommendations from the report support the government’s commitment in the 2019 budget to expand pharmacists’ scope of practice, including their authority to assess and, when necessary, treat patients for common ailments,” says Jen Baker, Chair of the Board for OPA. “We’re eager to continue working alongside our healthcare partners to ensure patients, whether in the community, long-term care home or hospital, have access to services within a fully integrated, multi-disciplinary healthcare system.”
OPA supports many of the proposed action items of the report and highlights the following three areas that reflect the expanded role of pharmacists in Ontario:
• “Ensure providers are well-supported and maximizing their permitted scope of practice.” (p.36) – OPA is committed to collaborating with the Ontario College of Pharmacists, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care to ensure that pharmacists are well-equipped to deliver the care their patients need;
• “Work with primary care providers to ensure they have information sharing and referral tools to link with all appropriate community providers, enabling seamless transitions for patients, with continued involvement by primary care.” (p.22) and “Enabling health data to be shared between providers so that patients receive better-integrated care, and so that providers will have a more complete picture of their patients’ health status.” (p.20) – Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare providers in the community with more than 4,400 pharmacies across Ontario, many of which are open late and even 24/7. The information community pharmacists document in their provision of care for their patients is invaluable to other healthcare professionals. Pharmacy management systems are beginning to get integrated with physician-based electronic medical records via clinical viewers to enable multi-directional and multi-disciplinary sharing of information so that patients can take comfort in knowing that providers within their circle of care are communicating with each other. Ontario’s pharmacists fully support making patient data accessible so that healthcare providers have a more fulsome picture of a patient’s health and can ensure the most appropriate care is provided; and
• “Support health sector leaders and ensure they have the skills and tools to lead by example and support the sector through a fundamental culture change.” (p.38) – OPA provides members of the pharmacy community with professional development to ensure the pharmacy community is prepared for healthcare transformation, including accredited programs relating to cannabis, immunization and injections and treating common ailments.
“The changes we are seeing in healthcare right now are more than just a transformation in structure. These action items will put patients at the centre of their care and will ensure they are supported inter-professionally by healthcare professionals within their circle of care, which includes their pharmacist,” says Baker. “More than ever, Ontario’s pharmacists are ready and want to provide more care. Patients and government need to rethink pharmacy and recognize the level of service and expertise pharmacists are trained to provide to help keep Ontarians healthy.”
Pharmacists continue to demonstrate their integral role across the healthcare continuum. Just this year, pharmacists administered more than 1.2 million flu vaccines to patients across Ontario. In addition, pharmacists are helping to protect communities by providing vaccines for 13 diseases including hepatitis A and B, HPV, varicella (chicken pox), meningococcal disease and pneumococcal disease.
“Pharmacists are trained healthcare professionals who can help. Not only can we keep patients out of emergency departments, but we can keep patients and their whole communities protected and healthy,” says Bill Wilson, OPA’s interim CEO. “Ontario pharmacists are ready to contribute to the Ford government’s new vision of a long-term, modern, sustainable, efficient and integrated healthcare system focused on the patient.”
About the Ontario Pharmacists Association
The Ontario Pharmacists Association is committed to evolving the pharmacy profession and advocating for excellence in practice and patient care. With more than 10,000 members, OPA is Canada’s largest advocacy organization, and professional development and drug information provider for pharmacy professionals across Ontario. By leveraging the unique expertise of pharmacy professionals, enabling them to practise to their fullest potential, and making them more accessible to patients, OPA is working to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare system. The pharmacy sector plays a strong role in Ontario with an economic impact of more than $6.3 billion across 4,500 pharmacies, employing 60,000 Ontarians.