Tommy Cheung, a pharmacist and entrepreneur based in Aurora, Ont., is leading the way in healthcare delivery. Seeing a need for enhanced care integration at a community level, Cheung in 2010 opened a medical clinic utilizing electronic medical records (EMR) to provide a comprehensive range of patient services. The model is so successful he and his partners now have several full-service clinics in Aurora, Thornhill and Etobicoke, and a number of satellite offices.
By Tommy Cheung, BSc. Pharm, RPh, MBA
I have worked in many different environments, and was trained as a pharmacist. However, I only worked as a clinical pharmacist for a short period of time. Then I moved into e-health and information technology. I have also worked for the government and industry – on the marketing side.
I saw where the gaps were and how difficult it is to work as a pharmacist within a community.
Top tips for pharmacists working within a medical team:
#1 Keep an open mind. Don’t limit the service pharmacists can provide to patients
#2 See the big picture. Respect the practices of other providers and don’t focus solely on pharmacy services
#3 Be very patient. It takes a long time to build a successful pharmacy practice. It will take much longer to build a collaborative practice with other disciplines.
#4 Communicate more. Don’t worry about being a broken record when conveying new information.
#5 Focus on the patient. Don’t worry about workflow, profit or buy-in. If you are providing what patients want/need, the rest will come.
The Enhanced Care Clinics (ECC) model addresses these issues. In addition to the pharmacy, registered as a Family Health Group (FHG), EEC offers physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, a chiropodist/foot specialist, orthotics, heart function tests (echocardiogram), lung function tests, on-site blood/lab service, an enhanced care golf clinic, and most recently home healthcare.
We represent a group of over 20 family physicians and specialists, and another 30 allied health providers. We work as a multi-disciplinary team to provide a large variety of services to patients, starting with family practice and extending to walk-in, rehabilitation, home care and of course pharmaceutical care.
My job at ECC is to ensure we are providing improved family practice care to patients and their communities. This includes ensuring all physicians and providers can collaborate effectively (e.g. creating efficient workflow and referral, implementing electronic medical records), developing new services and initiatives for patients (e.g. identifying care gaps in the clinic and community, securing resources from the Ministry of Health, developing new service provider partnerships), and supervising day-to-day operations (staffing, billing, walk-in clinic coverage, specialist and allied health availability).
Because we use electronic medical records, if a client sees one doctor at the walk-in clinic and then returns to his family doctor, his medical record will be accessible to the family doctor, who will be able to see the whole care process of the other doctor.
We need to have the other services as well, including a pharmacy. We also have a visiting cardiologist, a gynecologist, a geriatrician, and an internal medicine specialist who come to our clinics to work with our patients. We all work together to provide our patients with whatever care they need.