TORONTO, March 6, 2013 /CNW/ - Just in time for Pharmacist Awareness
Week, a new study from the Ontario Pharmacists' Association (OPA) has
shown 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 - counselling and
prescribing for smoking cessation, administering flu vaccinations,
adapting patients' drug therapy, renewing prescriptions for stable
chronic conditions, and prescribing for minor ailments.
Increasing pharmacy-based services could also help ensure the
sustainability of Ontario's publically-funded healthcare system.
"Ontario's healthcare system is facing some unprecedented challenges,
not the least of which is the rapidly escalating cost of providing
primary care to patients," said Dennis Darby, CEO of OPA. "Our research
shows that utilizing pharmacists to the full extent of their scope will
not only reduce healthcare costs in the short term, but will also
increase system capacity and access to primary healthcare services."
Health system savings
Even after accounting for reasonable compensation to pharmacists, the
economic analysis completed by Accenture, which reviewed professional
services currently offered and those under consideration in the
province, 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
introducing a pharmacy-based minor ailments program that addresses nine
common minor ailments could save the province more than $12.3 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
"The findings show that by expanding pharmacists' scope of services in
the five authority areas examined, it is anticipated that further
benefits may be realized for all stakeholders," said Sanjay Cherian,
Accenture's health industry lead in Canada.
The analysis shows that expanding the scope of services to pharmacists
would benefit patients by improving quality of care, while shifting to
lower cost providers for certain practice areas.
The expansion of the Pharmaceutical Opinion Program alone could have an
immediate impact on the number of patients utilizing healthcare
services as a result of an adverse drug event. Pharmaceutical opinions
are offered to identify and resolve drug-related problems such as
duplication in a patient's medication therapy, an incorrect dosage,
potential drug interactions, or the need for additional drug therapies.
In the first year of the program (2011-12), pharmacists provided close
to 250,000 pharmaceutical opinions, approximately 75 per cent of which
resulted in a change of dose, regimen or method of delivery, or in a
Other expanded services support increased system capacity by diverting
non-critical patients away from physicians' offices and emergency
departments and reducing wait times for more critical patients.
Ultimately, recognizing the full scope of pharmacy services is an
important step in transitioning to a patient-centered healthcare system
that offers primary care options that are convenient and accessible.
Patients have already embraced pharmacists' expanded role - more than
240,000 Ontarians turned to their pharmacist for flu vaccinations
during the 2012-13 flu season, the first year this service was
available in a pharmacy.
"Ontario's pharmacists already play a vital role on the healthcare team,
and we are willing and eager to further support the provincial
government in its goal of providing the right care to the right patient
at the right place and at the right time," said Billy Cheung, Chair of
the Board at OPA. "This report clearly demonstrates that expanded
pharmacy professional services stand to have a significant impact on
the healthcare system, and we look forward to collaborating with
government and other healthcare providers to ensure Ontarians have
access to the best possible care."
About the study
Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and
outsourcing company, was engaged in 2012 to conduct an economic
analysis to explore the impact of pharmacists' expanded scope of
practice on Ontario's healthcare system and illustrate the qualitative
impact of these services on patient health outcomes and health system
capacity. The study was completed in January 2013.
About the Ontario Pharmacists' Association
The Ontario Pharmacists' Association is the professional association
that represents the views and interests of more than 14,500 pharmacy
professionals and pharmacists‐in‐training across the province. The
Association works to inspire excellence in the profession and practice
of pharmacy, and to promote wellness for patients.
SOURCE: Ontario Pharmacists' Association
For further information:
or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Manager, Communications and Member Services
416-441-0788 x 4236