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8 tips to implement an effective minor ailment program

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A minor ailments program is a formalized service in which patients are encouraged to consult the community pharmacist, rather than their primary care physician, for management of a defined list of minor ailments. 

By Tom Smiley B.Sc. Phm., Pharm.D.

Minor ailments services delivered by pharmacists have been piloted, implemented, and studied in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland over the past decade. In Canada, Saskatchewan was the first province to create and implement a program in 2010.

Currently, pharmacists in Saskatchewan are permitted to assess and prescribe for seven conditions: minor acne, cold sores, insect bites, allergic rhinitis, diaper dermatitis, oral aphthous ulcer, and thrush.

Legislation in Nova Scotia approving pharmacist prescribing for a number of minor ailments has also been passed, although there is no government-funded reimbursement mechanism currently in place.

Despite the fact the majority of provinces of Canada have not yet implemented a minor ailments service, many are in the process of considering enabling legislation. Many aspects of formalized minor ailments services may be used to benefit daily pharmacy practice, regardless of the existing pharmacy environment.

Top 8 tips to implement a successful minor ailment program

  • Use a team approach
  • Identify eligible patients
  • Get their consent and documentation
  • Market and advocate the benefits of program
  • Offer efficient implementation and follow-up
  • Make sure you have a private and professional location for intervention
  • Work on your communications skills before offering the program
  • Don’t forget to promote additional professional services!