What’s new from Council

November 13, 2019

An update from Council’s September 2019 meeting.

During the past year, Council has invested considerable time studying the broader environment within which pharmacy is practised and ACP regulates. This has created awareness about trends and innovations that will impact both. These insights will be foundational to ACP’s next five-year plan (2021-2025).

The following themes reflect areas that Council has prioritized for further discussion:

  • Developing a contemporary practice framework that is relevant to the needs of Albertans and a changing health system, accommodating new technologies and practice models (amendments to legislation and standards).
  • Modernizing entry to practice requirements and processes.
  • Identifying registrants who may have competence deficiencies, and to support behaviour change and practice improvement.
  • Assessing candidates applying to be a pharmacy licensee and supporting those in this role.
  • Using data intelligence and analytics to support registrants in improving their practices, and to support the college in making more informed decisions.

By May 2020, Council will have approved a new five-year plan, including strategic goals and supporting objectives, indicators of success, and critical success factors important to fulfilling the plan. This will inform development of the 2021 business plan and budget and estimates for 2022-23.

Drawing inspiration: Public perceptions of community pharmacy services

Dr. Terri Schindel and Dr. Christine Hughes from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Alberta presented the results of phase one qualitative research that they conducted on behalf of ACP to learn more about public perceptions of community pharmacy services. Public expectations about community pharmacy services are built upon what individuals and families regularly experience. While the scope of practice for Alberta pharmacists is over 10 years old, it is generally observed that community pharmacy practices across Alberta are “consistently inconsistent.”  ACP wants to learn more about that, to support efforts that will make patient experiences more consistent with the scope of practice pharmacists enjoy in Alberta.

The researchers conducted 15 focus groups, including individuals of diverse backgrounds, health needs, and pharmacy experiences. Most of these were conducted in Edmonton, and two in rural communities within a 40-kilometre radius of Edmonton.

“Public’s perceptions of community pharmacy services were associated with participants’ experiences with services, health-related needs, and exposure to pharmacists and pharmacy services. Overall, public perceptions were positive. The public saw pharmacists as accessible and caring. They also saw pharmacists as informing and collaborative. The public perceived the environment of the pharmacy itself as a key element of community pharmacy services. The results indicated that the public were well acquainted with prescription, injections, and information related services. Some also had experience receiving primary health care services from pharmacists. However, some segments of the public such as young adults participating in this study had little awareness and exposure to expanded services such as comprehensive care planning services. The participants viewed the role of the pharmacist and community pharmacy services as changing; a central concept was the notion of transition – roles, services, and awareness in transition.”

Phase two of the research will broaden the sample size and accommodate deeper exploration of the preliminary findings.

Standards for Laboratory and Point of Care Testing (POCT)

Council approved amendments to the Standards for Laboratory and Point of Care Testing that were consulted on during the late spring. The amendments

  • clarify responsibilities of pharmacists for reporting reportable diseases,
  • require pharmacists conducting a POCT to advise each patient whether it is being performed for screening or diagnostic purposes, and
  • other general editorial amendments.

The amendments come into effect immediately.

Standards for the Distant Delivery of Pharmacy Services

ACP will be initiating a project to more clearly establish standards for the distant delivery of pharmacy services. Preliminary discussion was held about policies that will be important to development of these standards. Council explored whether

  • a pharmacist can create a professional relationship without first having to see them in person, and
  • the distant delivery of care should be accepted as routine, or as an adjunct to support usual and customary “in person” care.

It was observed that professional relationships with patients are the foundation to patient care in pharmacy practice. Where possible, care may be best provided in person; however, there are times when this may not be possible or appropriate. Therefore, acceptable standards must anticipate and accommodate a diversity of patient needs and situations.

Registration policies respecting international pharmacy graduates

Council received a comprehensive analysis of registration trends over the past five years. The number of international pharmacy graduates (IPGs) has nearly doubled, increasing from 18 per cent of individuals on the clinical pharmacist register, to 32 per cent. Most new pharmacies licensed during this period involve an IPG as either licensee, proprietor, or the proprietor’s agent.

Council is deliberating alternatives to ensure that the practical training and evaluation of IPGs is as consistent with that of Canadian trained candidates as possible. It is exploring strategies to ensure that accepted candidates are ready and competent to practise in Alberta’s health system. This includes the possibility of additional programs to enhance learning about professional values and culture, the Canadian healthcare system, and the context of pharmacy practice in Alberta. It also includes the possibility of readdressing fluency requirements.

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