How your pharmacist can help
Pharmacists are medication management experts committed to the delivery of healthcare services in a patient-centered collaborative environment. Their role has evolved over the years to include accountability and responsibility not only for the procurement and dispensing of medications, but also their safe and effective use by patients, the prevention of disease and the promotion of health and wellness.
Pharmacists have an in-depth knowledge of hundreds of prescription and non-prescription medications, including side effects, interactions with drugs and food, and adverse events. They are trained to assess, monitor, support and educate patients on their medication therapy.
This is especially important when a patient has been prescribed multiple medications by several different prescribers. The pharmacist is a critical link within the primary health care team, working with other health care professionals to advise on potential side effects, interactions, and any necessary adjustments to medications.
Today, pharmacists have at least five years of university education that includes rigorous education in physiology, microbiology, pathophysiology, clinical biochemistry, pharmacology, toxicology and pharmaceutical care. Many pharmacists undertake additional post-graduate training to become certified as diabetes or asthma educators, and some may specialize in areas such as geriatrics and menopause.
Pharmacists already provide many health services that are not widely known or recognized, such as screening for cholesterol and diabetes management, hosting flu shot clinics and education days on health and wellness topics, and offering expert advice and information on various conditions.
Pharmacists assess patients and recommend the best options for the treatment of minor ailments, which may involve medication, lifestyle changes or referrals to other practitioners. They advise patients on the use of prescribed medications, non-prescription therapies, and health care aids and devices.
Accessible healthcare providers
As health care needs increase and become more complex, these services will be even more critical, especially for patients who don’t have access to a physician, such as those in rural or remote areas where the pharmacist may be the only health care provider they see, the first one they see, or the one they see most often.
The Ontario government has reported that it takes an average of 4.6 hours for patients with minor ailments to be seen, diagnosed and moved out of an emergency department, in 90 per cent of cases. Pharmacists are already capable of assessing and treating many minor ailments. If they are authorized to do so through an expanded scope of practice, patients would receive the care they need, faster; and physicians would have more time to deal with more serious cases.
Collaboration that benefits patients and Ontario’s healthcare system
By making better use of their unique expertise, pharmacists can help improve patient care, take pressure off family physicians, emergency rooms and walk-in clinics, reduce wait times and hospitals stays, and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of Ontario’s health care system.