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Ontario expands access to Rx consultations
May 5th, 2011
TORONTO – The Ontario Pharmacists' Association is hailing the Ontario government's decision to give senior citizens and Ontario Drug Benefit recipients more access to pharmacist consultations.
The association said this week that the move will promote safer and more effective use of medications. The expanded pharmacy professional services include consultations with prescribers on issues such as potential adverse drug or allergic reactions, duplication of therapy and changes to dosage levels, along with follow-up consultations with patients to ensure medication is being taken — and is working — as intended.
"We're very pleased that the Ontario government has introduced changes that recognize some of the valuable services pharmacists provide on behalf of their patients on the public drug program," Dennis Darby, chief executive officer of the Ontario Pharmacists' Association, said in a statement. "Along with the MedsCheck program, these services promote healthier outcomes by helping to ensure patients are on the right medication, at the right dose, at the right time."
Later this year, pharmacists in Ontario are slated to kick off a professional appointment-based clinical services program. The initiative, the association said, includes in-depth assessment of how to better manage a chronic disease like diabetes or asthma, training on how to effectively use devices like blood pressure monitors and asthma peak flow meters at home; and support to quit smoking.
"Together with the successful MedsCheck program, these services will enable pharmacists to provide a more thorough review of a patient's medication therapy and contribute even more to positive health outcomes through improved chronic disease management," Darby noted.
MedsCheck allows pharmacists to provide eligible Ontarians with an annual appointment to review medications and ensure their proper use. The program also enables Ontario pharmacists to provide one-on-one consultations for patients with diabetes, long-term care home residents, and people who have difficulty traveling to a pharmacy.
"Funding professional services will help pharmacists provide the best care possible for their patients," stated Janet McCutchon, chair of the Ontario Pharmacists' Association. "The expanded programs will help enable pharmacists to create and maintain a complete and accurate record of a patient's medication history, support interprofessional collaboration and reinforce the vital role of the pharmacist as the medication management expert within the health care team."
The association pointed out that pharmacists often identify concerns with a new or repeat prescription drug. For example, the group explained, a patient may need additional drug therapy for an untreated condition, a drug may not be effective or the dose may be too low. Also, the patient might be experiencing an adverse reaction, possibly related to an allergy or a conflict with another medication or food, or the dosage could be too high because the patient may be — inadvertently or on purpose — taking too much.
And sometimes there are problems with compliance, in which a patient is refusing to take the drug or isn't taking it properly, the association added. Some prescriptions are even found to be fraudulent or have been altered. In consultation with the prescriber, the pharmacist can help determine if the prescription should be filled as prescribed, not filled or changed.
"By making better use of pharmacists, through changes such as these, we can improve patient care, take pressure off family physicians, emergency rooms and walk-in clinics, reduce wait times and hospitals stays, and help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our health care system," Darby commented.