A Canadian study has put a dollar figure on the impact that expanded pharmacy care could have in the larger realm of health care.
The peer-reviewed research, “Cost-Effectiveness of Pharmacist Care for Managing Hypertension in Canada,” revealed that long-term pharmacist care for Canadians with hypertension — including patient education and prescribing — can improve health outcomes and save money for the nation’s health system.
The projected cost savings: over $15.7 billion if full-scope pharmacist care were administered to the entire eligible population in Canada.
Such findings, announced by the Canadian Pharmacists Association, are well-timed. Provinces in Canada already have begun expanding pharmacists’ authority to provide health services beyond dispensing scripts, while in the U.S. there’s a continued push for legislation that would give pharmacists the status of health care providers.
“For the first time, there is evidence illustrating the significant amount of health care dollars that can be saved by allowing pharmacists to provide full scope of care to Canadians living with hypertension,” explained Carlo Marra, lead researcher of the study, published online ahead of the May/June issue of the Canadian Pharmacists Journal. “While there has long been evidence available for the health benefits of pharmacist care in hypertension management, there has been — until now — a lack of research done on the economic value of this type of care, particularly in Canada.”
Previous research has shown that systolic blood pressure would be lowered by 18.3 mmHg with full-scope pharmacist care. If that reduction is applied to the new study, over 30 years, it’s estimated that for every five people receiving full-scope pharmacist care, one cardiovascular event — a stroke, a heart attack, angina and heart failure — would be avoided and four years of life would be saved, the Canadian Pharmacists Association said.
With the full eligible population accessing care over 30 years, there would be 130,000 fewer strokes, 260,000 fewer heart attacks, 76,000 fewer cases of angina, 70,000 fewer instance of heart failure, 1,800 fewer instances kidney failure and an additional 953,000 years lived.
In all analyses, the rates for cardiovascular disease and kidney failure were lowest with the full scope of pharmacist care and highest under the usual care regime, researchers found. The results also highlighted the relatively low costs of the program — especially versus the costs of treating cardiovascular disease or kidney failure.
“Pharmacists are highly accessible primary health care providers and ideally positioned to address the care gap in hypertension management,” noted Phil Emberley, director of professional affairs for the Canadian Pharmacists Association. “With the infrastructure for these services already in place, we need to ensure pharmacists are able to make use of their full scope of skills across Canada.”
Check out the interactive online app posted by the Canadian Pharmacists Association to get a better idea of the numbers behind pharmacist intervention in hypertension care.