Community Pharmacists Recognize the Opportunity in Digital Health

Realized benefits demonstrate opportunity for future

(Toronto) – New research from Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) and the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) reveals that community pharmacists are frequently using digital health solutions and they want increased access to continue enhancing patient safety and quality of care.


The National Survey of Canadian Community Pharmacists: Use of Digital Health Technologies in Practice*, explored Canadian community pharmacists' access to, and usage of, digital health tools. The research found that digital health solutions, such as provincial drug information systems (DIS), access to lab results and electronic medical record (EMR)-generated prescriptions are improving productivity and quality of care.

Survey highlights:

  • Community pharmacists that have access to a DIS said they accessed it frequently with 49 per cent saying they use it for every patient/prescription and 37 per cent accessing it several times a day.
  • Respondents with DIS access stated that it increased productivity (61 per cent) and quality of care (92 per cent) and provided improvements in patient safety activities such as conducting medication reviews, performing medication reconciliation and identifying potential drug-related problems such as duplications, drug interactions or allergies.
  • When EMR-generated prescriptions are compared to hand-written or telephone prescriptions, pharmacists reported that digital tools are significantly improving care through better legibility (91 per cent), increased productivity (71 per cent), improved selection of the drug (64 per cent) and correct dose of the drug (66 per cent).
  • While they are still a minority, community pharmacists with access to electronic laboratory results through provincial/territorial information systems benefited from improved productivity (56 per cent) and quality of care (87 per cent).
  • Pharmacists who do not currently have access to a provincial DIS or laboratory test results would overwhelmingly like to have it to help inform patient care (96 per cent and 91 per cent respectively).


"Digital health is enabling our pharmacists to deliver effective care even more efficiently, which enhances the already exceptional care delivered each day," said Janet Cooper, vice president, professional and membership affairs, Canadian Pharmacists Association. "When we look at the positive impact that EMR-generated prescriptions present, it's only natural to anticipate the potential that full electronic prescribing will provide for the clinical community and Canadians as a whole. It's time to move beyond hand-written and faxed prescriptions."

"We know digital health is making a difference in patient care and safety and this research demonstrates that," said Maureen Charlebois, chief nursing executive, Canada Health Infoway. "The benefits of digital health are evident and the opportunities are even greater as access to these systems is expanded across the continuum of care."

The CPhA/Infoway Partnership

Both Infoway and the CPhA are dedicated to advancing professional practice through digital health and are currently working to advance electronic prescribing across Canada.

CPhA is involved in innovation, advocacy, education, information and collaboration to support pharmacists, advance the profession, and improve drug therapy outcomes for Canadians. CPhA focuses on influencing decision-makers on a wide range of issues, providing evidence-based drug and therapeutic information to health care providers, offering professional development programs and practice resources to support optimal patient-centred care in an ever-evolving health care system.

Infoway's clinical engagement strategy brings together clinicians in leadership, practice and education to ensure clinical value is achieved in digital health. As a result, Infoway supports pharmacists, and other clinicians, in the ongoing adoption and use of digital health in Canada through investments in modern point of care solutions, clinical peer leader networks to share best practices, clinicians-in-training initiatives to help prepare new graduates to practice effectively in technology-enabled environments, change management tools, resources, and by engaging clinicians to advise on projects and strategy.

About the Canadian Pharmacists Association

The Canadian Pharmacists Association was founded in 1907 and is the national professional association providing leadership to pharmacists in all areas of practice. Our member organizations are national and provincial pharmacist associations, which represents pharmacists practicing in community and hospital pharmacies, family practice settings, long-term care facilities, academia and industry.

About Canada Health Infoway

Infoway helps to improve the health of Canadians by working with partners to accelerate the development, adoption and effective use of digital health across Canada. Through our investments, we help deliver better quality and access to care and more efficient delivery of health services for patients and clinicians. Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government.

*The survey was conducted between April 15 to May 12, 2014 by Harris/Decima through an online survey of the CPhA membership. In total, 447 surveys were completed and the data was weighted to reflect the Canadian universe of community pharmacists.

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Angela Jonsson
Chief of Staff and VP, Public Affairs
Canada Health Infoway
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Christine LeBlanc

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