International travel is increasing in popularity among Canadians. There are millions of trips each year to international destinations. Each country of travel is associated with unique risks that could jeopardize the health of Canadians. How do we help keep travellers healthy while they are away and after they return?
By Mike Boivin BSc.Phm.
With the changes in expanded scope, pharmacists from across the country are integrating vaccine injection services into their practice. Travel health is an excellent opportunity to take the immunization practice to this level.
Here’s how to set up a travel health clinic:
1. Tailor your approach to your patients. Every international traveller, and not just high-risk travelers, can benefit from a travel health consultation. Marketing your service slightly differently to each patient can increase the uptake of the program.
2. Be prepared for the consultation. The pre-travel consultation form is used to identify potential travel red flags and helps to guide the travel health consultation. Issues such as the patient’s medical history and current medications are recorded on the form to help to identify issues that may need to be addressed during the consultation.
3. Learn your travel basics. These include starting the consultation, reviewing basic travel information, and identifying special travel circumstances (e.g. Hajj pilgrimage).
4. Know the programs available and your training needs. There are different programs and training requirements to offer travel health in community pharmacy, including the HealtheLearning.ca platform (Pear Healthcare Consulting Inc.) as well as International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) accreditation.
5. Integrate the new service. Just understanding the process is not sufficient to start a successful travel health service. You need to address different issues in your operation, such as maximizing productivity, organizational tips and the utilization of staff to sell and market any expanded service.
6. Follow up with physicians. You may need to include follow-up with patients’ physicians after your travel health consultation.
Done well, travel health is a great opportunity to showcase the expanded role of pharmacists in Canada.