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January 2010

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Adam Radwanski in the Globe – “Drugstores poised to become true health-care hubs”

Friday, January 15, 2010 @ 08:01 PM

Another interesting article by Adam Radwanski in today’s Globe and Mail.

But now Dalton McGuinty’s government is positioned to leap to the front of the pack in transforming the profession.

Not only has it empowered pharmacists to perform certain services traditionally restricted to doctors – such as giving vaccinations and prescribing some medications – but it has the chance to provide a groundbreaking incentive to take on those tasks, turning pharmacies into health-care hubs.

Before Christmas, the Ontario legislature unanimously passed Bill 179, which permits pharmacists (along with nurses and nurse practitioners) to perform services normally limited to doctors – services they have already begun to provide in other provinces, including British Columbia, Quebec, Alberta and New Brunswick.

Pharmacists have been poised to assume a leadership role in healthcare in Ontario for decades. The lure of rebates has been the single biggest reason why community pharmacists (either independent or part of a chain) have never really fully engaged in a scope of practice that would sincerely garner public trust in their role as part of the health team.

The McGuinty government has done more for the profession in the past 6 years through landmark legislation like the passage of Bill 102, which gives pharmacists the opportunity to assume a rung in the ladder of primary care through Meds Check. It also passed Bill 171 which increased the scope of practice for Pharmacist techs which has opened the door for pharmacists to assume an even greater role as Mr. Radwanski points out through the recent passage of Bill 179.

There is much more work to do. Long Term Care and Specialty Pharmacists play a vital role in the health care of patients and their issues need to be addressed. Hospital pharmacists have long been a part of primary care teams among health professionals. Moving pharmacists out of the basement of hospitals and onto floors, so to speak, has been a boon for patient care.

The opportunity exists through all the drug reform initiatives that are occurring across the country for pharmacists to rise to the occasion and fill a role that patients want for them to be a competent part of their health care team.

- Marc Kealey

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