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Partnerships help patients with severe food allergies

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Canadians with potentially life-threatening allergies and their caregivers can breathe easier, thanks to an innovative program available across Canada.

 

By donalee Moulton

Photography by Amanda Thirkill

As part of ongoing efforts to create allergy-safe communities, Loblaw Pharmacies partnered with Food Allergy  Canada  (formerly Anaphylaxis Canada) and Pfizer Canada to launch the Food Allergy Assessment & Management program, which helps educate consumers about food allergies and emergency anaphylaxis preparedness.

Ian Lording, Loblaw’s Senior Director, Digital Health Management, in Brampton, Ont., spoke with PharmacyU.ca about the program and the partnerships that brought it to life:

 

Tell us a bit about Loblaw’s Food Allergy Risk Assessment and Anaphylaxis Management program. How does it work?

This program was designed to help our customers better understand and manage severe food allergies, and consisted of two components. First, there was an educational component involving our pharmacists and dietitians, which was designed to help patients, caregivers and pharmacists become more proactive with respect to food allergy triggers, emergency planning, and comfort with auto-injector administration. Patients were asked to take a short quiz, allowing pharmacists to better understand how they are managing food allergies and helping to provide updated and educational information. The second part is an innovative IT solution that automates the renewal of epinephrine auto-injectors (e.g EpiPen® and Allerject®) using the expiry date and guideline defined quantities, ensuring patients have effective and timely access to these life-saving tools.

 

What was the impetus for the initiative?

We heard from pharmacists and consumers that this was an area where more information and support were needed. As a company, Loblaw’s purpose is Live Life Well, and we are constantly looking for customer-first solutions to help Canadians. This program is an excellent example of how we try to bring our purpose to life in stores and provide leadership in the pharmacy community.

 

Partners are essential to this program. How did you go about developing the necessary strategic alliances?

We knew early on that partnerships would be central to the success of this initiative. This is a multi-faceted program that we understood would need to evolve over time. Working together with a leading patient group, Food Allergy Canada, we were able to better understand the consumer perspective and develop credible and useable resources to better support patients at-risk. From Pfizer, we gained valuable educational resources, training tools and support for our point-of-care program, which focused on patients renewing their epinephrine auto-injectors on time and not carrying expired medication.

 

What are the ingredients in a successful partnership effort like this one?

Partnerships need to be authentic, transparent and relevant to be successful. Up front before there is even a program in place, there needs to be agreement and alignment about the future state you’re trying to achieve – in this case, enhanced care and well-being for individuals with severe food allergies. These shared goals motivate and unite partners, and lead to programs that meet, or exceed, expectations.

 

You mentioned that partnerships are more than pieces of paper, they are relationships. How can pharmacists build sustained relationships?

Choose your partners wisely. Do your research up front, and be engaged early on. Most importantly, you need to recognize this is a dynamic environment and partnerships need to stand the test of time. If you are not meeting your goals or if the landscape changes, you must adapt.

 

How do you know when a partnership has been successful? Is this intuitive or does it need to be demonstrated?

Success needs to be measured for the benefit of both patients and partners. As part of the Food Allergy Risk Assessment and Anaphylaxis Management program, we assessed whether the average number of epinephrine auto-injectors filled per customer increased to recommended guidelines (at least two per patient), and if the number of patients with expired auto-injectors had decreased. We also looked at how many customers knew how to safely manage their food allergies, such as knowing how to read a food label to identify allergens and how to properly use their auto-injectors. The data indicated we were achieving our goals. We also distributed surveys at education and other sessions to determine if consumers found value in the program. We’re pleased to say they did.

 

Leaders in Pharmacy, including this independently written article, is supported by Pfizer Canada.

 

EpiPen® is a registered trademark of Mylan, Inc. licensed exclusively to its wholly-owned affiliate, Mylan Specialty, L.P.; sub-licensee, Pfizer Canada Inc., Kirkland, Quebec H9J 2M5

 

Allerject® is a trademark of Sanofi.