In late March, Council gathered for three days of dialogue and planning to prepare the College’s next three year strategic plan. While we look forward to revealing the final framework in the coming weeks and months, I wanted to share with you how Council approached this process.
Our regulatory environment is constantly evolving and as a College we needed to be able to take a thorough look at what we are doing and how it is contributing to our fundamental role to put patients and the public interest first. The work on our new strategic plan was informed by input from the public, government, pharmacy professionals and other health system and regulatory partners and reflects the growing momentum among regulators and the broader healthcare system towards adopting collaborative and holistic approaches that don’t just look at professions, providers or issues in silos, but that reflect broad-based societal concerns.
The new strategic plan reaffirms our collective commitment to putting patients – and their necessary trust in both pharmacy and the College – first. It also acknowledges the increased focus on patient protection, as demonstrated by the recent implementation of additional regulations to the Protecting Patients Act (see The Protecting Patients Act 2017: New Regulations Now In Effect). The College strongly supported this Act and its intention to protect patients from harm and promote greater transparency for the public.
New issues and areas of focus in the healthcare and regulatory sectors are emerging every day. These can present both challenges for the College, pharmacy professionals and patients, but they also represent exciting opportunities. As pharmacy professionals, we have the opportunity every day of our practice to raise the bar for our patients. It’s not enough for us to just follow the rules; we need to actively seek out opportunities to make things better for our patients.
One fundamental way we do that is to build continuous quality improvement into the services and care we provide. As we move towards commencing full implementation of our medication safety program later this year (see Preparing for Ontario’s Medication Safety Program), we expect pharmacies, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to embrace this chance to support learnings and improvements across the province by starting to educate themselves and their colleagues about the program and its goals. It’s not just about reporting incidents, and it is definitely not about blame; it is about opportunities to enhance the whole system and improve the care that patients receive.
Whether it is about asking yourself if you have sufficient knowledge and skills to appropriately treat veterinary patients (see Similar, But Different: Veterinary and Human Drugs), delving into an ethical dilemma to explore how you might make decisions in practice (see What Would You Do?), or re-examining whether you are conducting the necessary patient assessments for refills (see The Importance of Patient Assessment), there are always opportunities to self-assess, educate and improve.
As a profession and a College, we also need to effectively respond to issues that are beyond just the scope of the healthcare system. With cannabis set to become much more accessible very soon, we have a collective responsibility to address how we may need to care for and communicate with patients in new ways. Like our work on the Opioid Strategy, a Cannabis Task Force has been established to develop a cannabis strategy for pharmacy which will be discussed at our next Council meeting. It’s another example of how we’re working together to be a responsive regulator on issues that matter.
Over the summer we will be electing five new members of Council and appointing a number of new non-Council committee members. I invite all of you to consider whether you have the skills, knowledge and experience to help protect the public and contribute to quality and safe pharmacy practice in Ontario. Council does not exist to represent members – it exists to ensure that the public interest is protected. Being a part of Council, or College committees, after all is a privilege.
Finally, I’d like to say that it has been an honour to serve as President for the past two years. I’m proud of all that we have accomplished in our mission to ensure patients are protected.