Your Pharmacist is Ready to See You Now - #ReThinkPharmacists

Mar 12, 2019

By Barret Procyshyn

March is here and it is once again time to highlight the contribution the more than 40 000 pharmacists across Canada make. As I approach 10 years as a pharmacist it is amazing to reflect on how far the profession has come. However; pharmacists still struggle to properly engage the public, government and third-party funders on how much more we could contribute by providing front line health care services, in addition to dispensing medications.

At a time when extra funding is lacking, physicians' workloads are maxed out and brand name drug manufacturers keep increasing prices; along with an aging population, health care is in a tough spot. Rather than try fix the problem with more taxpayer's money, we must start paying more attention to health promotion. With the average ICU hospital stay costing approximately $10 000 per day and a regular hospital stay costing about $2000 per day, the solution is simple. We need to start keeping you out of the hospital. We must look at our health care resources we currently have and maximize them. Let pharmacists' practice to their full scope and play a bigger role.

The first think pharmacists can do is help people take their medication properly. While this may sound a little crazy, up to 50% of people do not take their prescriptions properly. Up to 25% of people who receive a prescription from a physician do not even fill it. With 2 in 3 seniors taking more than five prescription medications things can get overwhelming and confusing fast. Make sure you sit down with a pharmacist and have a good understanding of your medication. Your DCP pharmacist can also align or sync your medications and simplify your medications to reduce the risk of errors. If you have medication vials all over your house and miss more than a day a month of taking your medication properly try blister packing or the convenient PacMed strips we offer, which really do make life better. In almost every province except Manitoba, a full comprehensive medication review by your pharmacist is covered through the health care system. I would invite anyone on five medications or more to come try one at the clinic pharmacy free of charge. We are sure you will see the value in it.

Manitoba pharmacists in hospitals and community pharmacies have the training and regulatory authority to provide health care services well beyond traditional drug dispensing or what most refer to as "giving out prescriptions". Pharmacists can, for example, provide extensive patient counseling, prescribe for self-limiting conditions such as mild eczema or acne, adapt prescriptions when necessary, and administer injections. Most pharmacists, including your Dauphin Clinic Pharmacists have embraced this expanded role. This winter we have provided approximately 1500 pneumonia and influenza vaccinations. While assessing and prescribing is new, we have pharmacists that can currently prescribe prescription medication to help you quit smoking or assess and diagnose for a self-limiting condition. The issue with a pharmacist assessment and prescription is it is not a health care system funded service, so you must pay out of pocket.

As the demand for health services increases, pharmacists provide a viable alternative to physicians in the diagnosis and treatment for many minor ailments or self-limiting conditions. Self-limiting conditions include smoking cessation, dermatitis, fungal infections, hemorrhoids, vomiting in pregnancy, in addition to eczema and acne which were mentioned above. In some provinces a pharmacist even takes care of urinary tract infections, which is appreciated by today's busy mom. If you have ever waited in an emergency room or walk in clinic for one of these issues, just think of how easy it could have been if you were able to get help at your pharmacy. Are Pharmacists trying to take over what doctors do? No. We are trying to help with the small minor things, to leave a physician available for the serious ones.

Currently in almost every other province, except Manitoba these services are covered by provincial health coverage. Just like when you go into a walk-in clinic or emergency room and do not pay, they are covered. However; in Manitoba, we do not have this necessity. You must pay out of pocket. However; we are holding out hope this will soon change.

Public funding for pharmacy services will reduce waiting times in clinics and provide an accessible health care alternative for Manitobans, especially for those living in rural areas. The best thing about your pharmacist is "we are ready to see you now" which is unique in today's health care system. Next time you need access to healthcare, re-think your pharmacist.


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