New Data Suggests a Gap in Access to Care for Ontarians Living with a Chronic Illness

·3 min read

TORONTO, Aug. 11, 2022 /CNW/ -  Incidents of chronic disease have been steadily increasing in Canada for many years, most recently compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic which created a substantial backlog. It is estimated that there are 2.6 million Ontarians living with unmanaged chronic conditions that had difficulty obtaining care. However, new data also suggests pharmacists are in a unique position to help effectively manage diabetes, cholesterol and hypertension in patients.  

As part of a recent pilot at 53 Shoppers Drug Mart locations in Ontario and British Columbia, pharmacists have administered over 15,000 point of care tests on more than 6,900 patients to date, including those with risk for chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease and those determined to be at high risk of having a heart attack in the next 10 years. The pilot found that almost 60 per cent of patients needed an intervention to better manage their chronic disease. For example, based on the point of care test results, the pharmacist may have adjusted the dose of an existing medication or may have contacted the patient's primary care provider to request a new prescription. On average, 31 percent received a new chronic medication, 28 percent required a change in their current medication, and 235 patients were newly identified as diabetic. Research has also shown that pharmacist-led care management resulted in lower total cost of care and fewer hospitalizations. These results demonstrate the important role that a pharmacist plays as a key member of the patient's health care team.

Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA) (CNW Group/Ontario Pharmacists Association)
Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA) (CNW Group/Ontario Pharmacists Association)

"This pilot highlights the significant gap in access to treatment for those living with a chronic illness in Ontario," said Justin Bates, Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Pharmacists Association. "However, this pilot project also demonstrates that pharmacists can play a role in helping to close this critical healthcare gap by offering accessible, high-quality care."

Pharmacy professionals played a critical role in ensuring access to care for Ontarians through COVID-19. As we turn our attention to the growing waitlists for care following the pandemic, there is further opportunity to leverage Ontario's pharmacy professionals to improve timely access to care and increase health system capacity. Through medication reviews, access to point of care testing, and soon to come minor ailment services, pharmacists can better support Ontarians by providing timely access to care and support for the management of both acute and chronic diseases.

ABOUT OPA

The Ontario Pharmacists Association is committed to evolving the pharmacy profession and advocating for excellence in practice and patient care. With more than 10,000 members, OPA is Canada's largest advocacy organization, professional development and drug information provider for pharmacy professionals across Ontario. By leveraging the unique expertise of pharmacy professionals, enabling them to practice to their fullest potential, and making them more accessible to patients, OPA is working to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare system. The pharmacy sector plays a strong role in Ontario with an economic impact of more than $6.3 billion across 4,600 pharmacies, employing 60,000 Ontarians. For more information on OPA, visit https://www.opatoday.com.

Related Links:

http://www.opatoday.com

SOURCE Ontario Pharmacists Association

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