Evolving pharmacy practice in the 2020s

January 8, 2020

A New Year’s message from Council president Fayaz Rajabali.

As the last decade closes, the evolution of pharmacy in Alberta has been profound. Pharmacist and pharmacy technician authorities have shifted our practice paradigm from a technically based dispensing model to a comprehensive care model, that better addresses the public needs. I can’t help but reflect back to 2010, when it was considered a luxury for a pharmacist to provide a flu shot. Then in 2011, pharmacy technicians became recognized as a regulated profession. Compare that to today, where pharmacy technicians are cornerstones in our highest performing pharmacy teams, and Albertans expect to receive their flu shot at their pharmacy. 

With the advent of a new decade, we must acknowledge some of the impending forces before us: innovations in technology being introduced at a dizzying pace, smartphones becoming a focal point for patients and their families, society expecting access to health information in real time, and products being distributed from “click-to-door” service.

Concepts such as the conventional bricks-and-mortar pharmacy being called “more accessible” may be a thing of the past; the opportunity (or threat) of shifting to more virtual patient relationships may be more prevalent, driven by consumerism and entrepreneurship. These are just some examples of the fourth industrial revolution, and pharmacy as we know it cannot remain status quo. The question is: “how do we stay relevant?”

Fully committed to our mission, to “…govern pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacies in Alberta to serve, support, and protect the public’s health and well-being…,” Council is developing a five-year plan for pharmacy practice that anticipates this new environment. Registrants attending our recent ACP Connect sessions discussed the current pharmacy landscape and the strategic themes important to preparing for this future. Council will finalize our five-year strategic plan early this year.

In addition, Registrar Eberhart and I, along with members of Council, have visited dozens of pharmacies across Alberta, rural and urban, to engage with and learn from registrants and their practices. In our visits, three consistent themes have emerged as key factors of success:

  1. Pharmacy teams actively seeking solutions and going through periods of reflection, planning, communication, and execution to meet the needs of their patients.
  2. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians working as teams, exercising their full scopes, and enabling better care for their patients.
  3. Lastly, but most importantly, pharmacy licensees exercising autonomy to nurture their teams in a positive, progressive culture. Examples like pharmacy teams joining forces to provide influenza vaccinations to seniors in Barrhead exemplified cooperative relationships between pharmacies that focused on the patient—not turf wars for market share—and setting an example of how powerful the force of pharmacy can be in our communities.

The power of relationships, as displayed in Barrhead and many of the pharmacies we’ve visited, is a testament that the human connection is invaluable. Ultimately, the experience and effectiveness of every encounter we provide individuals in our care, their families, and our communities, whether to promote better health, prevent or treat disease, or provide end-of-life care, are the building blocks that will define our value proposition to society, and the future of our professions.

From all of Council, best wishes to you and your teams in the next decade ahead!

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