Ontario Pharmacists Association

Ontario Pharmacists Association

June 20, 2013 10:50 ET

Ontario Can Significantly Improve Health Outcomes by Fully Implementing and Funding the Services Pharmacists Can Provide, Says Head of UK's National Pharmacy Association

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - June 20, 2013) - Fully implementing and funding the health care services that Ontario pharmacists can provide would significantly improve health outcomes - especially for seniors and patients with chronic diseases - says Michael Holden, Chief Executive of the National Pharmacy Association in the United Kingdom.

"Pharmacists in the UK, as in other jurisdictions around the world, are remunerated for many more healthcare services than they are in Ontario," Holden will observe in his keynote address to the 2013 Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA) Conference in Toronto on Friday. "In the UK, it's meant considerable health improvements, particularly among those who suffer from respiratory conditions, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Regular interaction with pharmacists and their teams has led to healthier lifestyles, greater prevention, and improved rates of avoidable mortality. One support service for patients with respiratory conditions has led to a reduction in hospitalization by over 50 per cent, by optimizing drug usage."

Holden says that since 2005, when the UK started to expand the range of services that pharmacies can provide (and began remunerating them accordingly), health outcomes have improved.

"It's about converting the interaction with the pharmacist into an opportunity for an intervention related to the patient's condition, and, if it's a factor, his or her lifestyle. Ontario can seize the opportunity, and do it."

The chart below compares some of the health services for which pharmacists are at least partially remunerated - in Ontario and the UK.

Ontario UK**
Health promotion and disease prevention Smoking cessation*
Administration of influenza immunizations
Healthy Living Pharmacy Initiative

  • Smoking cessation
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol
  • Physical activity
  • Sexual health
  • Men's health
  • Substance misuse
  • Emergency contraception
Medication therapy management MedsCheck
Pharmaceutical Opinion Program*
Medication Use Review (MUR)
New Medicine Service
Discharge Medicines Service
Minor ailments Not yet authorized Common/Minor ailments program
Chronic disease management MedsCheck Diabetes Chronic Medication Service program
Supplementary and independent prescribing
* Limited to recipients under the Ontario Public Drug Program
** Remuneration varies by local clinical commissioning group (CCG)

The Government of Ontario also has a strong economic incentive for funding an expanded range of authority for pharmacists.

A study conducted by Accenture on behalf of OPA, and released in March, 2013, found that Ontario could realize health system savings of at least $143 million over the next five years by fully implementing and funding pharmacists' authority in five key practice areas:

  • Assessing and treating minor ailments
  • Counselling and prescribing for smoking cessation
  • Administering flu vaccinations
  • Adapting patients' drug therapy
  • Renewing prescriptions for stable chronic conditions

"Primary care trusts across the UK have implemented minor ailment programs that allow patients to be assessed and, if need be, treated for certain conditions directly by a pharmacist," says Dennis Darby, Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Pharmacists Association. "They're seeing tremendous uptake by patients, increased capacity in the health system, and improvements in access to primary care. The Accenture report found that similar results could be realized by implementing a minor ailments program in Ontario."

The Accenture report found that introducing a pharmacy-based program that addresses nine common minor ailments could save the province more than $12.3 million.

In addition, even after accounting for reasonable compensation to pharmacists, the economic analysis by Accenture revealed that between 2013 and 2017:

  • Expanding the existing Pharmaceutical Opinion Program to include prescriptions that are adapted independently by the pharmacist could yield savings of more than $75.4 million (driven largely by avoided adverse drug events)
  • Pharmacy services related to prescribing smoking cessation drugs and counselling patients on strategies to quit smoking could generate savings of up to $49.1 million
  • Pharmacists' renewal of prescription medications for patients with stable chronic conditions could save the government more than $5.6 million
  • Further integrating pharmacists into the annual influenza immunization program could not only save the provincial government about $500,000, but also increase overall vaccination rates among Ontarians

About the Ontario Pharmacists Association

The Ontario Pharmacists Association is the professional association that represents the views and interests of more than 14,500 pharmacists, pharmacists-in-training and pharmacy technicians across the province. The Association works to inspire excellence in the profession and practice of pharmacy, and to promote wellness for patients.

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