The Right Tools are Available to Help Pharmacists Handle Increase in Patients

By Bhavesh Modi

As our health care system continues to struggle with an unprecedented staffing crisis, Ontarians have had a new way to receive timely access to care: their neighbourhood pharmacist. Pharmacists are one of the most accessible patient touchpoints in our health care system, with most Ontarians living within five kilometres of a pharmacy.

The Right Tools are Available to Help Pharmacists Handle Increase in Patients

Often open later than physicians’ offices and on weekends, pharmacists are uniquely positioned to provide care for minor ailments, helping to alleviate some of the pressure on our overburdened health care facilities – and we’re seeing patients embrace this option. Within the first six months, the Ontario Pharmacists Association reported that almost a quarter million people had received treatment for a minor ailment through pharmacies.

As more patients seek care through their local pharmacies, it’s important that we implement the right tools to support pharmacists’ workloads. Tools that streamline communication among health care practitioners and ensure patients continue to receive cohesive care, and that help pharmacists manage their administrative load, so they have more time for direct patient care.

One of the most valuable tools to complement the pharmacy management systems already in place are e-prescribing systems like PrescribeIT®, a national service that connects retail pharmacies to community-based prescribers, enabling the digital transmission of prescriptions and direct communication between pharmacists and clinicians.

The health care system has been relatively slow to adopt digital health tools, continuing to rely primarily on fax and phone. While this gets the job done, it comes with added administrative tasks that take significant time and can lead to communication bottlenecks.

Some offices might only set aside time to sort faxes once or twice a day and we’ve all had the experience of playing phone tag, trying to get through to a busy doctor’s office or pharmacy. This leads to delays in patient care any time questions or clarifications arise, be it a difficult to read script or the need to discuss an alternative drug therapy due to shortages.

One of the requirements of the expanded scope is that pharmacists must provide the patients’ primary care provider with details of any consultation they’ve provided, an important step to help maintain continuity of care and ensure the patient’s care team has the visibility needed to catch potential underlying issues.

However, with PrescribeIT®, pharmacists can easily communicate directly with the primary care physician or nurse practitioner through the integrated, secure messaging tool. This minimizes any delays to patient care when questions arise and the communications are automatically stored in the patient’s chart through the clinician’s electronic medical record system, eliminating the extra step of manually updating the chart.

Ultimately, implementation of e-prescribing doesn’t just benefit the pharmacies, clinicians and their administrative staff; it benefits the patients. It reduces the time a patient might spend waiting for a renewal to be processed or for their doctor to clarify their request and it allows pharmacists to manage their workflow more effectively. Instead of spending time managing the fax queue or the paper drop-off queue, they can put more focus on what’s important: providing clinical services to patients.

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About the author
Bhavesh Modi

Bhavesh Modi

Bhavesh Modi has dedicated his career to supporting the adoption of pharmacy initiatives that improve the patient experience. He is currently the Senior Director of Pharmacy and Prescriber Relations on the PrescribeIT® team at Canada Health Infoway, where he works closely with pharmacy and prescriber stakeholders on the national adoption and execution of PrescribeIT.