Inside This Issue - News
Loss of a key member won’t derail CACDS
August 25th, 2014
by Alasdair McKichan
TORONTO – The Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS) is pressing ahead with a five-year plan to represent the business of neighborhood pharmacy, even as its largest member readies to exit the group.
CACDS members are fully committed to the plan, notwithstanding the departure next year of Shoppers Drug Mart (SDM) under new owner Loblaw Cos., says Denise Carpenter, the association’s president and chief executive officer.
The membership has been “galvanized” by the “9,000 Points of Care” policy platform, which recognizes pharmacy’s transition to more professional services under an expanded scope of practice, she says. “Everybody still believes that we’re on the right track.”
CACDS expects to have a small operating surplus this year and remain in the black in 2015, without increasing dues, she adds.
SDM has decided to shift its support to provincial and territorial pharmacy associations and their new umbrella group, the Canadian Pharmacists Association, says a spokeswoman for the chain.
Says Carpenter: “The loss of a single member does not result in a change of our association’s mission, our values, or the energy and commitment we bring to its achievement.”
The group will intensify efforts to add retail and associate members, she says, and to that end is considering broadening its membership profile.
Governments have also confirmed their desire to continue to deal with CACDS on business issues and research matters. “CACDS will continue to be a strong voice and advocate for the neighborhood pharmacies across the country, collaborating with other industry associations and stakeholders, speaking to governments and serving on a wide variety of industry task forces and working groups,” Carpenter says. “Success in meeting our membership growth objectives will further cement our position.”
Speaking to the delegates attending the opening event of this year’s CACDS annual conference, Carpenter brought the members and other attendees up to date on some of the organization’s priorities and recent accomplishments. She singled out six activities that she believes demonstrate how the association brings value to its members:
• Building strong, trusting relationships with governments, provincial pharmacy associations and other stakeholders.
• Advocating for the identification, development and implementation of innovative funding models that enhance patient access to quality care and achieve long-term cost savings for the health care delivery system.
• Participating in cross-sector collaboration on multiple policy initiatives.
• Participating in the Patient Care Industry Collaborative project (leveraging the capabilities of neighborhood pharmacies to enhance care and outcomes for patients with or at risk of type 2 diabetes in Saskatchewan).
• Supporting the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association in a challenging negotiation process to create a historic new agreement in Alberta.
• Continuing to advocate for operationalizing the policies presented in 9,000 Points of Care, CACDS’ seminal policy platform.
Carpenter also described in some detail two current projects in which the association is involved.
CACDS is contributing to the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Distribution Management, in a pharmacy-led initiative to create a new and more efficient flu vaccine distribution system. Carpenter noted that neighborhood pharmacies in five provinces immunized 1.4 million Canadians last year, more than double the number of the preceding year. Flu shot data, however, is fragmented, inconsistent and often received too late to inform ordering decisions.
Carpenter asserted that this situation can be improved. She also positioned the flu initiative as one that can be replicated in other services — in prescribing for common ailments, smoking cessation programs, helping patients manage chronic diseases with medication reviews, and wellness counseling, among others.
Carpenter also explained how the association’s grassroots engagement initiative, called Healthcare Closer to Home, organizes visits of provincial legislators and local media members to neighborhood pharmacies, so that they can experience the broad range of services pharmacists deliver first hand. As described by Carpenter, the campaign’s three formal objectives are:
• To increase Canadians’ awareness of the growing range of services conveniently provided through their neighborhood pharmacies.
• To make Canadian legislators, regulators and influencers more aware of the benefits to patients of pharmacy services, as well as the systemic efficiencies that in-pharmacy services provide the broader health care system.
• To make pharmacists aware of what others in the profession are doing and to excite them about the opportunities to build their businesses and to serve their patients better.
Carpenter then outlined the progress that has been made on two of the strategic priorities outlined in the five-year plan.
The fieldwork involved in the baseline national behavioral study of Canadians’ attitudes toward neighborhood pharmacy has moved ahead well. On the strength of that, CACDS’ research partners had presented a top-line summary report to the CACDS board.
The research aims to understand the perceptions that drive behavior toward pharmacy as part of the health care delivery team among three major cohorts: patients and consumers, private payers, and pharmacists themselves.
The insights derived from this research will help in the design and marketing of programs that will leverage the high accessibility of pharmacy and position the pharmacist as a trusted member of a broader team of health care providers.
Carpenter also reported on the research component of CACDS’ strategic plan. The association plans to develop analytics that enable the principles and practices recommended in 9,000 Points of Care to be operationalized, by demonstrating the health and economic impacts of expanded pharmacy-led services.
The first research initiative is a pilot hypertension program in pharmacies. This project investigates pharmacists’ ability to play a significant role in the care and management of patients suffering from hypertension.
The communities in which the project will run have been selected, and pharmacists and patients who will participate are now being recruited. Carpenter said she expects the project to demonstrate its scalability to larger patient cohorts and larger communities and its extendability to the effective management of other chronic diseases.
Meanwhile, Carpenter noted that CACDS is broadening and deepening its engagement with health-related stakeholders. She said that when CACDS began to share the findings and strategies that form the core of the 9,000 Points of Care policy platform document with colleagues across Canada, there was a significant degree of common ground from which all the organizations could move forward.
Carpenter concluded her address by saying: “By making patients our north star and putting them at the center of everything we do, we can achieve more — for patients, for governments and for our members.”
Neighborhood pharmacy leaders were impressed by the message and affirmed their support for CACDS and its work on behalf of members.