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🇨🇦🍁⚕️ Strengthening Primary Care: Elevating the Role of Pharmacists in Canada's Health-Care Future

Sunday, 16 June 2024 02:13.PM

On June 6, 2024 the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) concluded its inaugural national summit on the future of primary care. The Summit, which brought together leading health-care professionals, pharmacy leaders, policymakers and patient advocacy groups, underscored the critical juncture at which primary care finds itself in our country. As Canada grapples with growing demands on its health-care system, the Summit highlighted innovative, pharmacy-led models that are increasing access to care and identified key areas that need to be addressed to better position pharmacists and their teams as integrated primary care providers.

Together, our vision is a system where pharmacy is recognized as a first stop in the primary care journey for all peoples in Canada.

A focal point of the Summit was the transformative role community pharmacists are already playing in delivering a broad spectrum of primary care services. Beyond medication management, pharmacists in all jurisdictions should be enabled to administer vaccines and injectable medications, manage chronic diseases, assess for a range of common ailments, conduct health screenings and provide health education and advice.

Some of the recommendations to come out of the Summit include:

1. Governments should recognize and promote pharmacy as a first point of primary care, particularly for the more than 6.5 million people living in Canada without access to a family physician or nurse practitioner.

2. Governments, regulators and pharmacy groups should collaborate to ensure all pharmacists can work to their full education, ensuring all peoples in Canada have access to a comprehensive range of services close to home.

3. We must collectively support Canada's pharmacy workforce at every level. These efforts should include easing the tuition burden for students, improving licensing pathways and increasing initiatives to recruit pharmacy professionals, with a particular focus on rural and remote communities.

4. To build pharmacy's capacity, all efforts should be made to remove regulatory barriers that restrict the use of technology and automation (e.g., central fill), allowing pharmacies to increase efficiencies, which in turn enables pharmacists to focus on providing care.

5. Community pharmacy teams should be fully integrated into provincial and jurisdictional health planning and strategies, ensuring that they have access to complete patient information and other systems.

6. Interprofessional collaboration is key. By recognizing the education and skills of all health professionals and supporting innovative collaborative primary care models, we will be able to put patients at the centre of every aspect of primary care.

Canada's pharmacy groups stand ready to support true primary care transformation. By investing adequately in community pharmacies, we can ensure that in 5 years, Canada is leading the way in primary care, rather than sitting at the bottom of the list.

SOURCE: Canadian Pharmacists Association