TORONTO — Pharmacists across Ontario are hailing the provincial government’s decision to provide seniors and Ontario Drug Benefit recipients with additional access to pharmacist consultations in an attempt to ensure that medications are being used safely and effectively.
“We’re pleased that the Ontario government has introduced changes that recognize some of the valuable services pharmacists provide on behalf of patients on the public drug program,” says Dennis Darby, chief executive officer of the Ontario Pharmacists’ Association. “Along with the MedsCheck program, these services promote healthier outcomes by helping to ensure that patients are on the right medication, at the right dose, at the right time.
“The changes provide important recognition of the value of these professional services,” he he notes.
MedsCheck enables pharmacists to provide eligible Ontarians with an annual appointment to review medications and ensure their safe and effective use. The program also gives Ontario pharmacists the opportunity to provide one-on-one consultations for patients with diabetes, residents at long-term care homes and people who have difficulty traveling to a pharmacy.
Expanded pharmacy professional services approved by the government include consultations with prescribers on such issues as potential adverse drug or allergic reactions, duplication of therapy and changes to dosage levels, and follow-up consultations with patients to ensure that the medication is being taken and is working as intended.
“Funding professional services will help pharmacists provide the best care possible for their patients,” says Janet McCutchon, chair of the pharmacists’ association. “The expanded programs will help enable pharmacists to create and maintain a complete and accurate record of a patient’s medication history, support inter-professional collaboration, and reinforce the vital role of the pharmacist as the medication management expert within the health care team.”
Later this year Ontario pharmacists will implement a professional appointment-based clinical services program, including in-depth assessment on how to better manage a chronic disease such as diabetes or asthma, training on how to use such devices as blood pressure monitors and asthma peak flow meters effectively at home, and support for quitting smoking.
“Together with the successful MedsCheck program,” Darby comments, “these services will enable pharmacists to provide a more thorough review of a patient’s medication therapy and contribute even more to positive health outcomes through improved chronic disease management.”
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