| Posted: Saturday, Jul 07, 2012 06:00 am
Pharmacists across the province will have a little extra pad to their pocket as a result of new government compensation.
Funds will now be paid to pharmacists for performing each of the seven publicly-funded health services, like prescription renewal and medication injections.
“The ability for pharmacists to provide this service is not new. What is new is that pharmacists will now be compensated for delivering those services,” said Neil Cameron, president of the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association.
Beginning July 1, pharmacists can bill for altering prescriptions, authorizing medication in a medical emergency, creating a Comprehensive Annual Care Plan (CACP), creating a Standard Medication Management Assessment, and, if they have prescribing authority, prescribing medication.
“There’s anxiety whenever there is change but the general feeling of pharmacists is it’s a relief that we’re actually finally being paid for what our scope of practice has enabled us to do,” Cameron said.
Pharmacists have been able to provide the services since 2007 when changes to government legislation were enacted, and have since provided the services without compensation.
Pharmacists will now be compensated $20 for prescription renewal or adaptation and medication injections, while pharmacists with prescribing authority receive $25.
Creating an annual care plan will put $100 in a pharmacist’s pocket, with an additional $25 going to pharmacists with prescribing authority.
Sara Karlstrom, pharmacist at Health Select Pharmacy in Tudor Glen Market, said the ability to bill the government for the services will bring in more money for pharmacies and pharmacists, but will also benefit patients.
“Not all patients have doctors that have time to sit down with them for 20 minutes and go through all their medications with them once a year,” she said.
She said pharmacists perform these services on a daily basis. She is pleased they will now receive compensation.
Cameron said it is too early to predict how much additional pay pharmacists can expect to see on their paycheques.
Fred Horne, minister of Health and Wellness, said the new pharmacy services are meant to “complement” the services offered by a physician.
“Pharmacists and doctors each bring a different specialty to health care, so making better use of a pharmacist’s specialty also makes better use of both the doctor’s and patient’s time,” he said.
Karlstrom agreed, adding it is important for patients to be aware of the different services offered by pharmacists and physicians.
“We still get patients come in thinking that we’re replacing their doctors, which is inaccurate,” she said. “We’re just here to bridge the gap that exists sometimes when patients can’t get in to see their family physicians.”
Horne said the implementation of the Pharmacy Services Framework will decrease waiting lists for physicians, enabling patients to have more timely access to public health care.
“We have a lot of demands in our health-care system and we have an obligation to use every profession to their full scope of training and expertise,” Horne said.
The cost of the program will be funded solely from government savings from the cost of generic drugs.
Effective July 1, the amount the Alberta government spends on generic drugs has decreased 10 per cent. It used to pay 45 per cent of the name-brand cost, but now pays 35 per cent — a cost now on par with neighbouring provinces.
This reduction in generic drug costs is expected to save $85 million annually.