Last fall, I and members of the College leadership team hosted a number of regional meetings to update members on key initiatives and activities underway aimed at advancing our shared goal of putting patients first. Our work to promote patient-centred and safe pharmacy care and the conversations we’ve had with professionals – both those just entering the profession and those with established practices – about our shared goals since then have not waned. And they never should.
Putting patients first means keeping patients safe. While we’ve made patient safety a focus of this issue of Pharmacy Connection, in reality patient safety must be a focus in all of our work, all of the time. This applies to what we do as a regulator and what all of you do as pharmacy professionals and stakeholders.
We believe that pharmacy professionals, as trusted members of a patient’s care team, can be agents of positive change in our health system and can – and should – play a vital role in building healthier communities. As the regulator of pharmacy in the province, we have an obligation, first and foremost to the public, to have the right systems and tools in place to support quality and safe pharmacy care.
Doing so means that we must evolve as our health system evolves. Being a responsive regulator, after all, doesn’t mean always doing more of the same. It means challenging the traditional notion of what a regulator should be and the role we all play as a part of a broader healthcare system.
Affecting positive outcomes and contributing to a better health system
It's often said that ‘you can’t improve what you can’t measure’, which is why the College has started to move towards adopting a systems-based focus in its work to better define, measure and influence positive patient outcomes.
Our medication safety program is a wonderful example of how we will all be able – for the first time in Ontario – to benefit from anonymously reported data that, ultimately, will help reduce the risk of preventable harm caused by medication errors in pharmacies. Read more about the progress we’re making on the program, including an interview with patient advocate Melissa Sheldrick and the invaluable role of our phase-one pharmacy ambassadors, in this issue of Pharmacy Connection.
As the role of regulatory colleges evolves and as stakeholder and public expectations continue to change, the College recognizes the extraordinary opportunity to work with broader health system partners to influence high quality, safe pharmacy care and promote good outcomes for patients. We see ourselves – both us as the regulator and you as pharmacy professionals – as playing an important role in supporting the goals of Ontario’s Patients First Action Plan for Healthcare.
Over the past several months, the College has established important collaborative relationships as we look to leverage our mandate to advance our strategic priorities in new and innovative ways.
As you’ll read in this issue of our magazine, we’ve formed new partnerships with organizations such as Health Quality Ontario (HQO) and with Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). Along with directly supporting initiatives such as our Opioid Strategy and implementation of sterile compounding standards, these new collaborations are strong examples of how we’re building vital regional and diversified approaches to quality and safety while also building bridges between pharmacy and primary care and with other areas of the health system. Through more effective systems-based and data-informed strategies, we strongly believe that we can contribute to effective and sustainable health system improvements and promote quality and safe pharmacy practice throughout the province.
As the College moves closer to the development and launch of a new strategic plan later this year, we must always keep in mind that patients are our first priority. Look for us to continue to introduce new ways of integrating the patient perspective into our activities and to establishing even more partnerships with health system organizations as we work – together with all of you – to strengthen public confidence in the role of the College and the safety of pharmacy in our communities.
Yours in patient safety,
CEO and Registrar