DRAFT Standards of Practice for Virtual Care

Consultation No. 2022-03B  Open
Submission deadline:  Tuesday, May 24, 2022, at noon MT

Background

The Council of the Alberta College of Pharmacy (ACP) has approved DRAFT Standards of Practice for Virtual Care, for the purpose of conducting a 60-day consultation with regulated members and stakeholders. Council previously approved guidelines for applying virtual care in practice, and having conducted further environmental scanning to gain insight about practices using virtual care, is now prepared to formally recognize virtual care through Standards of Practice.

ACP has learned through the experiences necessitated through COVID-19, and welcomes virtual care as an opportunity to complement community-based care and to enhance access and services in a manner that meets the unique health and wellness needs of individuals and families. We look forward to this next step in formalizing our recognition of virtual care as part of pharmacy practice.

ACP does not envision virtual care as an alternative to the foundation of community-based care. It is ACP’s experience that Alberta pharmacy professionals’ ability to fully contribute to the health and wellness of Albertans depends on access to the breadth of services available through the community-based model on which the practice of pharmacy in Alberta is founded. As demonstrated throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, while opportunities to apply virtual care in practice increased, the community-based pharmacy team continued to play an important role within patients’ broader health team, providing access to self care, public health needs, community-based supports, and prescription drug treatments when necessary.

These draft standards will allow regulated members to provide professional services using virtual care from a licensed pharmacy, institution pharmacy, or other practice site located within Alberta. They are intended to ensure that as virtual care is provided, the profession of pharmacy continues to uphold

  • the autonomy of patients to make informed decisions about their preferred pharmacy team members,
  • the autonomy of pharmacy team members to make informed decisions about when, where, and how services can best be provided to meet each patient's needs, and
  • the ability to coordinate and facilitate access to other community-based services when required.

ACP does not regulate enabling technologies but instead regulates the practice of members and their use of the technology. These standards do not

  • relieve a regulated member from their obligation to meet the requirements of the
    • Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians (SPPPT),
    • Standards for the Operation of Licensed Pharmacies (SOLP),
    • Code of Ethics (COE),
    • Health Information Act (HIA),
    • Pharmacy and Drug Act (PDA), and
    • all other applicable legislation and privacy requirements;
  • enable a regulated member to provide virtual care when an in-person encounter is required by the SPPPT;[1] or
  • permit a regulated member to provide a mail order pharmacy service,[2] as defined under the PDA, unless that mail order pharmacy service is provided from a licensed mail order pharmacy.

Documents for review and comment period

The following documents outline the proposed amendments:

Comments about the proposed amendments are welcomed prior to noon MT​ on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. Council will consider feedback received at its next scheduled meeting in June 2022.

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[1] An in-person encounter is required by SPPPT 12.2, 13.2 and 14.2.

[2] A “pharmacy service” means the storing, compounding, dispensing or selling of drugs; and a “mail order pharmacy service” means a pharmacy service provided to or for a patient for which neither the patient nor the patient’s agent attends at the community pharmacy to receive the service. See Pharmacy and Drug Act ss1(1)(s.1) and (n.2).