Pharmacy professionals play an important role in the lives of patients, who rely on their skills and expertise to manage their health. Whether it’s instructing a parent on how to administer an antibiotic to treat their child’s ear infection, or helping an elderly patient with multiple chronic conditions manage their medications, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are part of the continuum of care, using their clinical knowledge to help improve the health outcomes of our patients.
The role of pharmacy professionals will be growing. The provincial government announced in May that it would expand scope of practice for a number of regulated health professions, including pharmacists. The College has been asked to assist in this process by developing regulatory amendments that would enable these changes while protecting patient safety.
As a regulator, the College has a singular mandate to serve and protect the public, and plays a critical role in enabling and promoting quality, safe and ethical pharmacy care. The College also recognizes that pharmacy professionals, and other healthcare professionals, have a critical role to play in the work that they do to ensure that patients always come first; patients must receive the care they need and feel that they are heard and considered. As such, we will continue to consult broadly with the profession, the public and key stakeholders in this process, gathering feedback that is crucial to developing regulatory amendments that won’t compromise patient safety.
As the needs of patients continue to evolve and pharmacists take on a greater role in their healthcare, the responsibility to improve quality and safety as well as understand the impact of their work becomes even more important. The responsibility to provide quality, safe and ethical care is shared by pharmacy professionals, managers and pharmacy owners and operators. It is the foundation of the public’s trust and confidence in our profession.
Many pharmacy professionals have already demonstrated their commitment to enhancing patient safety by embracing the Assurance and Improvement in Medication Safety (AIMS) Program and anonymously reporting all medication incidents and near-misses through an independent, third-party platform. The aggregate data collected through the program will be analyzed by an independent team of experts to identify trends, determine key findings and provide guidance to the pharmacy sector on how to improve patient safety. Their first set of recommendations will be shared with both pharmacy professionals and the public in the very near future – an important step in our collective efforts to prevent medication errors.
Quality indicators for pharmacy is another key component to improving patient care. Other areas of the health system, such as primary care, have a strong focus on indicators to measure quality and support quality improvement efforts. With the launch of the first set of quality indicators for pharmacy in June – developed by the College in partnership with Health Quality Ontario – we are on a path to better understanding the influence of pharmacy care on quality and health outcomes for our patients. The College is currently engaging patients, pharmacy professionals, academics and others on how these indicators can be implemented, and what tools and resources will be needed to support registrants in their work to improve quality of care.
Every day, patients across Ontario place their trust in the hands of pharmacy professionals. As we enter this new chapter in expanding scope of practice, we must all renew our commitment to improve patient safety and quality of care and demonstrate to the public that they can continue to have confidence in pharmacy as it takes on a greater role in managing their health.
CEO and Registrar
Ontario College of Pharmacists