Medical Remedy’s Rx , Huntsville ON
Muskokaregion.com, Muskoka ON
By Alison Brownlee
Pharmacist Bill Coon’s workdays have gotten busier.
Coon, who is the co-owner of Muskoka Medical Remedy’s Rx in Huntsville, is one of thousands of pharmacists across the country that have been granted an expanded scope of practice, which allows them to provide more services to patients.
“The days are crazy-busy, but perhaps the most satisfying of my career,” he said. “You’re making a difference.”
The pharmacy was the site of a media event hosted by the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada on Nov. 12. The aim was to promote the additional services pharmacists are now able to provide following policy changes at the provincial government level.
Pharmacists can now offer medication counselling, prescription renewals or adaptations, flu shots and vaccinations, minor diagnoses and prescriptions for smoking cessation, and wellness counselling, including health-device demonstrations and smoking cessation information.
Coon said pharmacists are compensated for some of the additional services, but they also require additional training before offering them.
“(Pharmacist) Barb (Coon) and I spent a weekend at a course to become injection certified, plus we have to keep our CPR and first aid up to date,” he said in reference to now providing flu shots.
And he said there is a lot of collaboration with physicians, too.
Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller attended the event.
Coon completed a mock MedsCheck, or medication and wellness consultation, with Miller that included a demonstration of a blood glucose meter. A pharmacist can now use a blood glucose meter to screen a patient for diabetes.
Miller said he supported expanded scope of practice for pharmacists because it is not only more efficient for the patient, but less costly for the health-care system.
The Ontario Pharmacists’ Association stated that shifting services to pharmacists would save the health-care system $143 million over five years.
“Health is the biggest item of the province’s budget,” said Miller. “It’s almost 50 per cent of a $130-billion budget.”
He said primary health care is an important topic in Muskoka and the additional services offered by pharmacists, along with the newly announced funding for community health hubs in Dorset and Port Carling as well as a mobile community health hub in Muskoka, would enhance access to it.
“I think, as long as there are safeguards put in place so there aren’t any risks at all, that it will make sense from both the dollars and cents perspective as well as a consumer perspective,” he said.
Allan Austin, director of communications for Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada, said advocacy for additional expansions of pharmacists’ services is ongoing.