Pharmacists committed to enhanced services
Patients like having more access to care in their communities, Paul Bazin says.
I’d like to respond to a recent op-ed letter from Dr. Joanne Sivertson, speaking for the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA).
We agree with Dr. Sivertson that effective health care is “a system with many moving parts, and their movements must be harmonized to get the best results.” In fact, over recent years, Saskatchewan’s 1,600-plus pharmacists have demonstrated a commitment to investing in new capabilities and expanded services, always with a focus on patient well-being and access.
We believe that our system is evolving for the better, and our investment in the capabilities to provide enhanced and growing services helps patients get health care in their hometowns, relieves pressure on clinics and acute care facilities and makes our system work better for everyone, including physicians. This evolution is occurring across Canada, with a growing number of pharmacists providing these types of services right across the country. Saskatchewan is not unique in this area — we are following best-practice evidence from other provinces where patients are benefiting from the enhanced practice of pharmacists.
Any change takes time, and we are taking a gradual approach to the introduction of new services to ensure patients are well-served. Extensive consultation with colleagues in health care — including the Ministry of Health — over the past decade has helped us ensure we are evolving to better serve Saskatchewan communities; service that is evidence-based and patient-focused.
And our communities are responding with clear support for this direction. Pharmacists rank among the most respected of healthcare professionals, according to the 2018 Abacus research conducted in February and funded by the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA). In addition, in Saskatchewan, patients surveyed were very supportive of additional health care being provided by pharmacists.
Saskatchewan residents are appreciating the ability to obtain care from their hometown pharmacy, and we are seeing significant growth in the numbers of patients seeking services such as annual flu vaccines from their pharmacist. Since pharmacists were provided the authority and training to provide flu vaccines, the number of patients accessing their pharmacist for their shot has grown to close to 120,000 and 18 per cent of residents surveyed indicated they got their flu shot for the first time because it was offered by their pharmacist.
Each day, Saskatchewan’s pharmacists earn the continuing high trust that our patients and our communities place in us. As professionals, we have invested in understanding the science and clinical use of more than 20,000 medications. We are educated medication experts.
That expertise deepens our understanding of pharmaceuticals and drugs therapies, including the potential for adverse drug interactions. We consult closely with our patients’ physicians every day to ensure that prescriptions we fulfil will help ensure patient well-being.
We take the trust our patients place in us very seriously. As professionals, we feel a duty of care to our patients, their families and our communities. Part of that duty of care is to communicate effectively and clearly when new services become available under the law. This has recently taken place when pharmacists were granted the prescribing authority in relation to birth control and bladder infections. — building on moves in that direction that have benefited patients.
Our valued relationship with physicians is essential to us. Pharmacists welcome the opportunity to deepen these relationships, and to collaborate more constructively on best practices, competencies, risks and benefits, always with a view to improving patient care and improving the effectiveness of health-care delivery.
We are continuing our work with the province and our colleagues across the healthcare sector to engender outcomes that can help — in Dr. Sivertson’s words — “bring professions closer together.” We are committed to providing our professional best for patients, while we contribute to the resilience, innovation, and efficiency in our healthcare system.