VICTORIA – People are getting better access to everyday health care with 50 new clinical primary care pharmacists joining B.C.’s primary care strategy through the Pharmacists in Primary Care Network (PCN) program.
“Clinical pharmacists are an important part of B.C.’s health-care system as they are one of the more accessible health-care professionals in our communities. By being part of our team-based model, they will provide a real solution by working directly with patients with complex conditions,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “The new clinical pharmacists will be working in primary care networks in all health authority regions and with other health-care providers to provide better access to health care in communities throughout B.C.”
As part of B.C.’s primary care strategy, the Ministry of Health has been working with the University of British Columbia’s faculty of pharmaceutical sciences since 2018 to create a program to add 50 new primary care clinical pharmacists in primary care networks around the province.
“The Pharmacists in PCN Program will support the integration of the pharmacists into team-based primary care networks across B.C. to optimize drug therapy outcomes for patients,” said Dr. Peter Zed, associate dean, practice innovation and executive program lead, UBC faculty of pharmaceutical sciences. “The addition of pharmacists in primary care networks enables and supports continuity of care across the health care continuum.”
Over the next few months, 20 new primary care clinical pharmacists will be hired and integrated as part of team-based care in primary care networks throughout the province. This includes one clinical pharmacist who joined the Kootenay Boundary primary care network in January 2021 and one who joined the Comox primary care network earlier in March. Eight more pharmacists will join primary care networks in Vancouver, Richmond, Ridge Meadows and Oceanside in April.
The remaining 30 clinical pharmacists are expected to join primary care teams beginning in fall 2021.
“B.C.’s family doctors welcome the opportunity to include clinical pharmacists into the team-based care environment, especially when it comes to taking care of patients with complex conditions who are often on multiple medications,” said Dr. Matthew Chow, president, Doctors of BC. “Working alongside family doctors and nurse practitioners, the expertise of clinical pharmacists can be extremely valuable in helping optimize medication management and enhancing the overall patient experience. When we are fully integrated, we learn from each other’s strengths to better manage complex and chronic diseases.”
The Government of British Columbia is supporting the program with up to $30.9 million in funding over three years.
These primary care clinical pharmacists will support the team by working directly with patients with complex conditions, such as those with chronic health conditions, to provide comprehensive one-on-one patient medication review. Using their specialized knowledge and training, they will provide expert input to physicians and nurse practitioners on different drug therapy options, drug regimen adjustments and patient safety issues, such as drug interactions and adverse drug events.
Their focus is preventing and resolving medication-related problems, so patients have better health outcomes and higher quality of life. They will do so by educating patients about their medications and helping remove barriers that prevent them from following prescription advice.
By providing clinical pharmacy services directly in primary care networks, patients will benefit as their physicians, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and other health professionals will be able to work more closely together in team-based practices to share records and target services around a patient’s specific health-care needs. To ensure the best care of patients, these primary care clinical pharmacists will also work closely with other pharmacy service providers from both health authorities and community pharmacies to improve continuity of care.
Primary care networks are community partners, local health-care providers and Indigenous partners working together to ensure patients have access to a full range of team-based primary care services for their day-to-day health-care needs. For people and families, it means getting faster, better access to their primary care team, including evenings and weekends, as well as being connected to appropriate services and supports in the community.
Since B.C. launched the primary care strategy in 2018, 39 primary care networks have been announced throughout the province, and 24 urgent and primary care centres, three primary care nurse practitioner clinics, three community health centres and one First Nations primary care clinic have opened, with more are underway.