Pharmacists can now renew prescriptions
New rules expanding the role of pharmacists in the province’s health-care system should help streamline care for patients, doctors and others, says Sundre pharmacist Mark Jackson.
Starting this month, pharmacists are now allowed to renew or alter prescriptions based on a patient’s health needs, perform drug injections, authorize medication in medical emergencies, and create care plans to help residents understand and manage their medications better.
As well, if the pharmacist has additional prescribing authority, he or she can now prescribe medication.
“I think it will streamline the process for patients, pharmacies and medicine,” said Jackson. “There will be less wasted time and it will allow things to be more efficient. That’s the bottom line.
“It is more of a framework where everybody is documenting and creating a file of what is done. It’s a good system because it creates accountability and the ability to know what has been done.
“It is important to understand that this is a streamlining process and does not replace visits to your regular doctor.”
As far as now being able to help patients create care plans, Jackson said, “That’s something we’ve always done, but now we can designate more time so it is more thorough and useful.”
Regarding the prescribing of medication, he said, “Any pharmacist can have prescribing authority. It is not just a weekend training session; it takes quite an effort and is an ongoing process.”
A transition team made up of Alberta pharmacists and other health professionals has worked with Alberta Health to develop the framework for expanding the services pharmacists provide.
The provincial government will compensate Alberta pharmacists for the new services, say officials.
“Pharmacists have the training and education to provide a broad range of services to Albertans and we’re happy to have the opportunity to do so,” said Neil Cameron, President of the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association.
“With over 4,300 pharmacists licensed in Alberta, Albertans can rely on us even more to meet their medication needs close to home.”
The cost of expanding the services pharmacists can bill for will be covered primarily from savings gained from the reduction of generic drug prices, the government says.
Effective July 1, Alberta reduced what it pays for generic drugs from 45 per cent of the cost of name brand drugs to 35 per cent.
“The price reduction means Albertans will save on their out-of-pocket costs for generic drugs, and the Alberta government will save about $85 million in 2012/13,” says Health Minister Fred Horne.
These new services will help Albertans get the medical services they need faster and more conveniently, which means better health and an improved quality of life for Albertans.”