OPA said Tuesday that at PharmacistsOfferMore.ca, developed in recognition of Pharmacist Awareness Month in March, Ontarians can get to know their local pharmacists and learn how they can become their partner in health.
Along with using the website as a tool for information on the services available, Ontarians are invited to participate in Pharmacist Awareness Month by joining the #PharmacistsKnow conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
About 85% of Ontarians live within 2 kilometers of a community pharmacy, making pharmacists the most accessible health care providers, and many pharmacies are open 24 hours a day.
“Pharmacists, whether in a community pharmacy, long-term care or hospital setting, or part of a family health team, are important members of your health care team,” OPA chairman Deb Saltmarche said in a statement. “Together with patients, caregivers and other health care providers, we can work towards the best possible health outcomes.”
Besides dispensing scripts, pharmacists use their knowledge as highly trained medication experts to provide such services as reviewing dosage levels, watching for drug interactions, helping to manage chronic diseases, and adapting and renewing medications — in turn, helping patients stay on track with their medications and receive the maximum benefit from their prescriptions.
OPA also noted that pharmacists administer flu shots, provide smoking cessation consultations, prescribe medications to support patients who want to quit smoking; provide MedsCheck medication reviews (at no charge for eligible patients); adapt and renew prescriptions; and help patients meet their health and wellness goals by providing information and support.
Going forward, OPA said, pharmacists can expand their role in such ways as the introduction of a pharmacy-based, common or minor ailments program, treating noncritical medical issues such as pink eye, skin rash, etc.; expanding vaccination programs to include routine injections such as the HPV vaccine, pertussis and travel vaccines; and broadening access to and coverage for the pharmacy-based smoking cessation program to every Ontario smoker who wants to quit.
“Enabling pharmacists to practice to their fullest potential provides the opportunity to improve the patient experience, reduce health care costs and ultimately improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the province’s healthcare system,” Saltmarche stated.
Currently in Ontario, pharmacists can provide emergency prescriptions, renew or extend prescriptions, change drug dosage or formulation, initiate prescription drug therapy (for smoking cessation) and administer an injection (for flu or for demonstration and education purposes), according to the Canadian Pharmacists Association. The ability for Ontario pharmacists to order and interpret lab tests is pending.