The Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy’s (CFP) Innovation Gala, held in April, was especially meaningful to me this year.
By Dayle Acorn
The event’s speakers not only brought to light the ground-breaking work of some of our latest Innovation Grant winners, but they also emphasized some of the obstacles in our path. As we know, research must be objective to be valid, and innovation can be as much about overcoming barriers as it is about reaching new horizons.
Researchers Jeff Taylor and Kerry Mansell at the University of Saskatchewan, for example, are identifying why physicians are resistant to pharmacists prescribing for minor ailments. Interestingly, their research (funded in part by CFP) shows that pharmacists have similar concerns, which suggests a common ground from which solutions can be found. More details, as well as an evaluation of the economic impact pharmacists prescribing for minor ailments, will be available this fall.
Nancy Waite, co-lead researcher of the government-funded Ontario Pharmacy Research Collaboration (OPEN), spoke candidly of the operational challenges that get in the way of pharmacists’ uptake of government-funded pharmacy services such as MedsCheck. “Pharmacies are focused on surviving, and it’s very hard to do more in that type of environment,” she said. In response, future research needs to do more to address areas such as change management and reimbursement models.
On the plus side, OPEN’s research confirmed that consumers are responding positively to pharmacists’ expanding role and are returning for services. “We need to be proud of the fact that we’re serving large populations with these new services,” said Waite.
Jeff Yurek, community pharmacist and Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Elgin-Middlesex-London, presented a unique perspective on pharmacists’ changing role. “The future is so bright for the profession, but you have to ensure you are part of it,” he said. For example, proposed changes to Local Health Integration Networks and Community Care Access Centres in Ontario represent “the largest restructuring in 50 years. This is something that pharmacists don’t want to miss. Your skills and training are needed.”
The future distribution of medical marijuana is another good example of the need for pharmacists to be at the table. “The fact that government first considered LCBO [Liquor Control Board of Ontario] tells us that pharmacy needs to do a better job at being heard.”
Yurek also urged individual pharmacists to reach out to their MPP and ask for 10 minutes to present a single idea that can close gaps in healthcare and get better value from current spending. “It may take time, but eventually your suggestions take seed.”
On that note, CFP recently announced new funds for 2016. Funds raised from events such as the Innovation Gala, and the generous donations from individual pharmacists, have allowed us to offer up to $100,000 in funds for this years’ projects. So, if you have initiatives that you believe will help move pharmacy forward and improve the health of patients, check us out online. The deadline for this year’s initial applications is May 16.
Dayle Acorn is Executive Director of the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy (www.cfpnet.ca), a registered charity dedicated to supporting innovation and leadership to advance the profession of pharmacy.