Provincial developments

The Government of Ontario has expanded the role of pharmacists so they can be part of integrated healthcare teams that provide enhanced care to patients. The Transparent Drug System for Patients Act passed in 2006, which brought in a number of important legislative changes, including recognizing the valuable role pharmacists play in healthcare by compensating them for professional services they can provide to Ontarians.

New medication management services

introduction of pharmacist servicesOntario’s health ministry expanded medication management services in 2007 by leveraging pharmacists — the province’s third largest group of healthcare professionals — to take on a more patient-focused role in healthcare. By introducing MedsCheck, a service provided by community pharmacists, the province provided Ontario Drug Benefit patients with a better understanding of their medications and how to take them for best therapeutic effect.

The ministry expanded MedsCheck to all Ontarians, then added MedsCheck for Diabetes, a similar service for diabetes patients, MedsCheck at Home for those who cannot easily leave their residences, and MedsCheck for Long-Term Care Home residents.

The scope of pharmacist services expanded again in 2011 by introducing Pharmaceutical Opinion, a program where pharmacists consult with prescribers, identify potential drug-related problems, and if appropriate recommend a change in medication. And in fall 2012 provincial legislation was approved to allow pharmacists to give flu shots and to renew and adapt prescriptions.

Drug costs and patient benefits

Spending on drugs is the second largest healthcare expense in the province, and to keep healthcare costs affordable we need to better understand and manage medication use. OPEN’s research assesses the effectiveness of these services and determine what barriers and facilitators are in place so patients make the best use of them.

OPEN’s goal is to provide continuous high-quality evidence that can be used by government, patients and healthcare providers to improve healthcare practice, cost-effectiveness of services, and the quality of healthcare for patients.