- Published on Thursday, 26 July 2012 15:06
- Written by Pat Kolafa | © DrumhellerMail.com
Primary care just got easier in Alberta. Residents can now head to their pharmacist for prescription renewals and six other publicly funded health services.
As of July 1, Alberta compensated for the seven new services. The goal is to allow pharmacists to use more of their skill set and free up doctors to see more patients and handle more complex cases.
“Some of these services are to allow the doctors who have their own practices to provide longer term care for their sicker patients. We can help by providing some services they used to. It will hopefully free up their time to do other things,” said Pat Doyle, pharmacist in the IGA.
“We have a long ways to go, but a good starting point. It’s a great thing for pharmacists and excellent for patients to provide another access point for health care. It’s also nice for pharmacists to be recognized for some things we’ve been doing for years but not being compensated for,” said Ray Ainscough, pharmacist at Riverside Value Drug Mart.
Pharmacists will now be compensated for seven services. In the comprehensive annual care plan, pharmacists can work with their patients to deal with complex health needs, understand their medication and how to use it, set medication therapy goals, and help pharmacists monitor the progress of their patients.
Pharmacists in Alberta, such as Mike McGillivray from Riverside Value Drug Mart, are now able to provide seven new services, including renewing prescriptions. The services will free up doctors to care for more patients and handle more complex cases, and will take advantage of a greater breadth of the pharmacists skill set.
Standard medication management assessment will help patients who do not have complex needs. Pharmacists and their patients can set medication therapy goals, monitor and manage drug therapies, and help Albertans better manage their medical conditions.
Pharmacists can now assess and adapt a prescription, based on their professional experience and needs of the patient. For example, changing the dosage of a medication or substitute another medication to meet the needs of the patient.
Pharmacists can now renew a patient’s prescription without requiring the patient to visit their physician.
Patients needing injections of medication can now visit their pharmacist. For example, pharmacists may inject flu vaccinations or any other drug listed on the Alberta Drug Benefit List.
If a pharmacist has additional prescribing authority they can assess a patient and write them a prescription for medication, without the patient visiting their doctor.
In the case of emergency, where a pharmacist believes medication is necessary and the patient does not have a prescription, the pharmacist can authorize the use of a drug.
“Some of the services we had been providing for free, but now we can be reimbursed for those,” said Doyle.
Even though pharmacists are being compensated for a greater range of services, they will still work closely with doctors to give the highest quality of health care possible.
“We’re not taking the place of a doctor, we’re working as a team. Before, we would have to get the okay from a doctor first, now we do it, and let the doctors know what we did. We still have to document and be professionally responsible for what we do,” said Doyle.
“The whole thing is a collaborative effort. For example, every time we do a repeat for a patient we have to let the doctor know we did that,” said Ainscough.
The new services will help make up for the loss of revenue from the reduction of the price of generic drugs. Starting July 1, Alberta reduced what it pays for generic drugs from 45 percent of the cost of brand name drugs to 35 percent. However, Ainscough feels the new services don’t quite make up for the losses.
“It’s a baby step in the right direction. If you look at the pluses and negatives, they don’t balance. There’s a lot more fees and services under discussion with the government right now. For example, refusal to refill a prescription, they pay for certain injections, but not all injections, or in some provinces pharmacists can diagnose and treat minor ailments,” said Ainscough.
For now, pharmacists are excited to use more of their skill set.
“Pharmacists should have been able to do all this stuff years ago, so it is a step in the right direction,” said Doyle.
“There’s still more we can do,” said Ainscough. “As long as everybody works together, pharmacies can become a really good thing.”