Three pharmacy services could save billions

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Just three pharmacy professional services could save Canada up to CAD$25.7 billion, a new report has found

The new report, released by the Conference Board of Canada, found that if smoking cessation, advanced medication review for heart disease, and pneumococcal vaccination services were implemented in pharmacies across the country, the Canadian health sector would save between CAD$2.5 billion and CAD$25.7 billion (AUD$ 2.6 billion to AUD$25.2 billion) over the next 20 years.

The Value of Expanded Pharmacy Services in Canada is part of a three-part research series commissioned by the Canadian Pharmacists Association.

The research findings provide ample evidence that expanded pharmacy services improve health outcomes and reduce burdens on the broader health care system, the Association says.

“This report is good news for a cash-strapped health care system, governments, payers and ultimately all Canadians,” said Alistair Bursey, Chair, Canadian Pharmacists Association.

“While we have long understood the health benefits of pharmacist care in interventions such as smoking cessation and cardiovascular disease through past clinical practice research, these findings help to bridge the evidence gap to demonstrate the significant value Canada’s pharmacists can bring to our health care system.”

In addition to health and economic gains, a large return on investment is also expected for all three community pharmacy services. By 2035, for every dollar spent, the direct return could reach up to CAD$2.30 for advanced medication review for heart disease, $9.10 for smoking cessation, and $72.00 for pneumococcal vaccination.

Expanding pharmacy services would improve the health of Canadians through chronic disease management, health promotion and prevention, as well as improve access to health services in rural and remote communities, the Association says.

It also points out that pharmacists can also help meet the demands of high-needs and vulnerable populations at reduced cost, as pharmacy care means fewer visits to doctors’ offices and emergency rooms, saving health care dollars while also improving health outcomes for patients.

“If given the opportunity, community pharmacists could do more to help meet the growing demand for convenient, accessible, and cost-effective health care services,” Mr Bursey says.

“The infrastructure for these services already exists; now we must expand pharmacists’ scope of practice and remunerate them appropriately to provide this care across the country.”

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