e-Prescribing Connects Pharmacists with a Patient’s Circle of Care as their Roles Expand

By Dr. Lino Lagrotteria

On January 1, Ontario joined other provinces like Alberta to expand the role of pharmacists to include assessing and prescribing for 13 minor ailments.

e-Prescribing Connects Pharmacists with a Patient’s Circle of Care as their Roles Expand

With emergency departments chronically suffering from lengthy wait times and nearly 1.8 million Ontarians without a family doctor — a number that’s estimated to increase to more than three million within the next two years — this is an important step to help bridge some of the gaps in health care today. In order to optimize the benefits to patients and ensure proper continuity of care, we need to prioritize implementing tools that enable faster, more effective communication within the patient’s circle of care.

Tools like PrescribeIT®, Canada’s national e-prescribing service, connects prescribers to community retail pharmacies and enables the secure, digital transmission of prescriptions. But what is often overlooked is that the platform also offers the ability to send secure clinical communication through its integrated messaging tool. This allows pharmacists and prescribers to quickly align on an appropriate course of action and provide the best medication approach for their patients.

When a Patient’s ‘Minor’ Concern Isn’t Minor

Pharmacists are a valuable point of contact and can aid in screening and advising patients, especially in situations where they can’t access a physician. However, sometimes, something presenting as minor could actually be symptomatic of something more severe.

Recently, one of my patients visited their pharmacy with complaints of urinary tract infection (UTI) symptoms. Based on some of the symptoms the patient was describing, the pharmacist was concerned that it was more than just a UTI and contacted me using PrescribeIT’s clinical communications tool, which functions like an instant messaging system. As a result of the communication, we were able to bring that patient in for a same day appointment and, upon clinical examination, determine that it was actually a kidney infection.

In that case, the communication between the pharmacy and my office proved to be invaluable in ensuring the patient received timely care and was kept out of the emergency room. As with emergency room visits and specialist consultations, pharmacist-administered consultations and prescriptions need to be communicated back to the primary care physician. This ensures that they are kept informed of potential changes in their patients’ health status and recurrent issues, ensuring appropriate follow ups are completed.

e-Prescribing ensures best outcomes for patients

Many physicians are facing the challenges of increased administrative burden and we must be mindful that the new expanded scope of pharmacists can create an added layer of communication between pharmacists and physicians. Already, we are seeing an increase in the number of faxes from pharmacies, which need to be appropriately transcribed into our electronic medical record (EMR) system. With e-prescribing, these communications get documented directly within our EMR, which eliminates the extra clerical work of processing a fax while still ensuring accurate and up-to-date patient records.

The ultimate goal of changes like expanding pharmacists’ scope of practice is to improve access to care. Implementing tools like e-prescribing allow us to improve access without further fragmenting care.

This blog post originally appeared as an article on Healthing.ca.

Have a comment about this post? We’d love to hear from you.

About the author
Dr. Lino Lagrotteria

Dr. Lino Lagrotteria

Dr. Lino Lagrotteria is a family physician in Hamilton, Ont., an assistant clinical professor in the department of family medicine at McMaster University and a member of the PrescribeIT Clinical Advisory Sub-Committee. He has an interest in digital health technologies to improve communication among health-care providers and enable better patient care.