National Post Healthcare Closer to Home Supplement
By Post Media
If your parents need to know how their medications will interact with over the counter products, it can’t wait. It can be a matter of life and death.
There’s really no way to know when someone in your family is going to need quick access to professional healthcare. And if that need arises at night, or on the weekend, or you live in a community without a hospital or easy access to a clinic, there’s a real risk the issue is going to get worse before it gets better.
Family doctor appointments, even on an urgent basis, can take days to get. Walk-in clinics typically only offer limited evening hours, usually with long wait times, and hospital emergency rooms are designed, staffed and equipped for treatment of the most seriously ill or injured patients on an acute care basis. So, where can you go for the other healthcare that meets your family’s needs and their schedule?
There’s no truly one-size-fits-all solution. But for many Canadian families, their neighbourhood pharmacy offers accessible healthcare advice that’s closer to where they live, work, and play. Canada has about 9,000 neighbourhood pharmacies across the country, many open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and even more open to midnight, where a growing range of services is available, usually without an appointment.
"Canadians trust and respect their pharmacists, based largely on pharmacists’ expertise as medication specialists, but there is evidence that Canadians are increasingly comfortable having their pharmacists provide other professional healthcare services."
Many Canadians are now familiar with pharmacy flu shots, but there’s a growing list of patient services being delivered in neighbourhood pharmacies around the country that they may not know about. These services include prescribing for minor ailments, wellness and preventative care, diabetes management, smoking cessation, administering other vaccines and support for chronic conditions. Each province regulates its own pharmacies, so this lack of knowledge may be due to the varying services available.
The Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada (Neighbourhood Pharmacies) conducted in-depth public opinion research and it indicates that Canadians have a positive view of their neighbourhood pharmacies. We see pharmacies as “friendly” (91 per cent agree or somewhat agree), and providing advice that is “accessible” (90 per cent), “supporting patient care through advice on medicines” (92 per cent), “sharing health information” (88 per cent) and “helping prevent illness through programs such as flu shots” (85 per cent).
Canadians trust and respect their pharmacists, based largely on pharmacists’ expertise as medication specialists, but there is evidence that Canadians are increasingly comfortable having their pharmacists provide other professional healthcare services. Research recently published by Shoppers Drug Mart associate-pharmacist John Papastergiou, in the “Canadian Pharmacists Journal” (Oct 28, 2014) addressed patient reactions from flu shot recipients in October–November 2013.
Based on more than 1,500 survey responses, patients were overwhelmingly positive: 86 per cent reported they were very comfortable with the pharmacist administering the injection, and 92 per cent said that they were very satisfied with the pharmacist’s services and injection technique. Perhaps even more impressively, seven per cent of respondents indicated they had never received a flu shot before, 28 per cent would not have obtained one last year, had it not been available at a neighbourhood pharmacy, and 99 per cent would recommend that family and friends be vaccinated by a pharmacist.
Canadians have increasingly looked to their neighbourhood pharmacies to receive their flu shots in recent years. At Neighbourhood Pharmacies member locations, total flu shots administered have increased dramatically – from zero in 2008, to almost 1.4 million in the 2013 - 2014 flu season. To date, provincial regulations have enabled pharmacists in eight provinces to administer flu shots.
Recent behavioural research indicates that Canadians believe pharmacists, in addition to administering flu shots, could also provide wellness and preventative services, including writing, changing and refilling prescriptions, managing chronic conditions, assessing medications and treating minor ailments. Across the board, the research also clearly shows that the main driver behind Canadians’ interest in obtaining these services at pharmacies is convenience of access.
Neighbourhood pharmacies are stepping up to take on a greater role in delivering healthcare, where and when Canadians need it.