July 12th, 2024

Enhanced pharmacy care working

By Gillian Slade on August 8, 2017.


The role of pharmacists is moving from just dispensing medications to one that includes a range of services.

“We are the people in the health field that have the most interaction with patients,” said Greg Bueckert, pharmacist and owner Gregs Remedy’s Rx, who believes this enhanced role is helping to take the pressure off the emergency department.

The four year agreement with Alberta’s pharmacists in 2014 included a range of additional consultation-type services for which they are paid a fee by Alberta Health. These include: An assessment for a prescription renewal $20, assessment for an adaption of a prescription $20, assessment for administration of a product by injection, medication reviews and taking blood pressure, to name just a few.

Bueckert says it is what pharmacists all along were trained to do.

When Solutions Clinical Pharmacy opened three years ago the goal was also to provide a full range of services.

Key to that role is fostering professional relationships to ensure services at pharmacies complement and support, in a collaborative way, other healthcare professionals so that there is seamless care for the patient, said April Duchscherer pharmacist and co-owner.

“Never undermine the relationship with their (the patient’s) healthcare provider,” said Duchscherer.

There may be a range of local healthcare providers prescribing, such as family doctors, chiropractors, dentists, ophthalmologists, and further afield such as specialists in Calgary that the patient may be seeing. Many factors may have gone into the prescribing for that patient, said Duchscherer who is herself a prescribing pharmacist.

“We support the client through supporting their healthcare provider,” Duchscherer explained.

The range of services, that pharmacists can provide and be paid for by Alberta Health, come with a list of procedures to follow and monitor. There is extensive paperwork to be completed online.

That process can be complicated and take a lot of time; in some cases more than an hour, said Bueckert. It is all part of the “collaborative approach” to health care— to ensure a good long-term vision for health care, and the role of pharmacists.

There is no need for a patient to go without medication simply because it is a weekend and the doctor’s office is closed, or they can’t get an appointment in a hurry, said Duchscherer.

Greg’s Remedy’s makes every effort to phone its regular customers every month to check on how they are doing, said Bueckert.

They also have three pharmacist who are dedicated to doing medication reviews.

Bueckert says the future of healthcare will include nurse practitioners running walk-in clinics and prescribing medications.

Effective April 1, 2014 pharmacists went from a dispensing fee that was on a sliding scale, between $10.22 and $15, depending on the price of the drug being dispensed, to a flat rate of $12.30 regardless of the cost of the drug.

At the time some pharmacists were concerned that they would not make as much as they previously did. Several said time alone would tell the story.

It was a substantial change, said Jeff Whissell, director of pharmacy practice, Alberta Pharmacists Association.

“I think the new model is working. It’s working for pharmacists and it’s working for Albertans,” said Whissell.

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