Excellent Care for All

MedsCheck Program – Broadening the Role of Pharmacists

Health Care Challenge

Diabetes and other chronic conditions can be difficult to manage. Many patients have multiple medications that need to be taken at a prescribed time and frequency and the addition of each new prescription can be confusing. Taking medication at the wrong time, in the wrong dosage or in the wrong combination can have serious consequences. The evidence shows that one in nine emergency room visits are medication-related and more than two-thirds of those cases could have been prevented with the safe and appropriate use of prescription drugs.

Real Change In Action

Pharmacists play an important role in our health care system and the government is committed to expanding that role to put their expertise and skills to better use. MedsCheck is a medication management program that was developed in collaboration with the Ontario Pharmacists' Association and the Ontario Pharmacy Council. For Ontarians with diabetes or a taking three or more medications for a chronic condition, a pharmacist will spend up to 30 minutes in a one-to-one consultation to discuss how prescription, over-the-counter and alternative medications may be affecting each other. This program is funded by the Ontario government and it does not require a referral from a doctor.

The program also reaches residents of licensed Long-Term Care Homes and people who are home-bound and not able to get to a pharmacy. Pharmacists are also active in providing patients with support in the Pharmacy Smoking Cessation Program that is also funded by the Ontario government.

“Especially for seniors, diabetics, or people with high blood pressure or high cholesterol - those people need to understand and manage their medications effectively,” said Janet McCutchon, Past Chair of the Ontario Pharmacists’ Association. “Pharmacists are uniquely positioned to understand medications and their side effects and interactions, and can give this information to the patient in a way that they can understand to manage their disease.”

Better Quality, Sustainable Care

Thanks to the MedsCheck program, pharmacists are identifying potentially dangerous combinations or interactions. “During a MedsCheck, one of our pharmacists figured out a patient had stopped taking one of his medications altogether because he forgot what it was for – meanwhile the doctor had been increasing the dosage because they didn’t see any improvement in the patient’s condition,” said McCutchon. “That pharmacist sent a letter to the physician and the patient returned to his doctor for a reassessment of the dosage.”

As of September 30, 2011 and since the program launch in 2007, there have been 1,838,396 MedsCheck consultations. This initiative is part of the government’s plan for innovation in public health care, building a system that is keeping Ontarians healthy, reducing wait times and providing better access to care.

Learn more about MedsCheck.

For More Information

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