Healthcare Leaders Should Focus on Patients

Statement from the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada by Denise Carpenter, President and CEO

TORONTO, Jan. 19, 2016 /CNW/ - The Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada – the respected voice and advocate for the business of pharmacy in Canada – today released the following statement by Denise Carpenter, ICD.D, President and CEO.

"As Canada's health ministers gather this week in Vancouver to plan the path forward for our country's healthcare delivery system, it's time to point them towards what should be our top priority and theirs: patients.

By focusing first on patients – not just on costs – we can achieve better patient care and lower overall costs. We need to spend smarter and demand a better return on taxpayers' scarce healthcare dollars.

We need to leverage what our healthcare delivery system currently does well through innovation, to improve patient outcomes and enhance taxpayer value. Isolated policy changes and standalone programs can no longer improve patient care, lower system costs or contribute to system sustainability. Simply cutting costs doesn't improve patients' outcomes, because no one ever got better sooner because their doctor, nurse or pharmacy was paid less.

Of course, managing rapidly rising costs is essential, particularly because of the new medications such as biologics that deliver effective solutions for previously untreatable diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, but which carry high price tags. The human costs of disease are very real and as a society we should focus first on those.

What has been shown to deliver better treatment, better outcomes and better costs is treating patients in their neighbourhood pharmacies, closer to where they live work and play. Not for all conditions, but for carefully limited circumstances, such as vaccinations and the assessment and treatment of minor ailments.

Pharmacy flu vaccinations, for example, are extremely popular with Canadians, 95 per cent of whom (according to our research) are highly satisfied with their treatment and its convenience. The number of people who have received flu protection at a neighbourhood pharmacy has climbed steadily, from just 60,000 in the 2010 – 2011 season, to an expected two million this season. Pharmacy flu vaccinations also attract those who have not had a flu shot in the previous season – that helps reduce the spread of the disease and reduces complications, hospitalizations and even deaths. Pharmacy flu shots reduce both human and economic costs – that's smart spending.

Pharmacy assessment and treatment of minor ailments, like thrush, allergic rhinitis and dermatitis can also provide cost-effective professional healthcare. One familiar example is the mother with a young child developing diaper rash late on Friday, and who can't get to her pediatrician until Monday at the earliest, resulting in an uncomfortable weekend for the whole family. Pharmacists with expanded scope of practice can assess and treat at the same time and in the same place. That way the healing begins at once, instead of being unnecessarily delayed, and subjecting the patient – and the healthcare system – to the risk of complications and added costs.      

Pharmacy care for common ailments frees physicians to treat more complex cases, diverts simple cases from hospital emergency rooms, and creates substantial savings for the healthcare system resulting in 33-37 per cent fewer physician visits for minor ailments in one Scottish pilot project. More smart spending.  

Pharmacy healthcare teams also help the growing number of older Canadians manage their diabetes, hypertension and other chronic conditions, and deal with challenges like obesity, smoking, nutrition and exercise.

Research shows that treating patients appropriately in pharmacies saves our healthcare system at least $2 billion annually. (See http://9000pointsofcare.ca/).

There are more than nine thousand neighbourhood pharmacies across Canada, embedded in almost every community, providing a growing range of primary care services.

High quality, easily accessed healthcare for Canadians is possible, practical and affordable; its foundation is neighbourhood pharmacies, where patients and their needs come first."

About Neighbourhood Pharmacies

The Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada (Neighbourhood Pharmacies) is the respected voice and advocate for the business of pharmacy in Canada, representing the owners and operators of Canada's leading drug store brands and serving Canadians through chain, banner and franchised neighbourhood pharmacies, as well as grocery chains and mass merchandisers with pharmacies.

SOURCE Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada

For further information: Allan Austin, Director, Communications, 416 226 9100 ext 4012, aaustin@neighbourhoodpharmacies.ca

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www.neighbourhoodpharmacies.ca

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