Virtual care has played a longstanding role in pharmacy practice, often under different names such as “distance delivery of pharmacy services” or “internet pharmacy.” ACP Council previously approved guidelines for applying virtual care in practice. ACP has learned from practices and from other health organizations about the need for standards for virtual practices. ACP has developed Draft Standards of Practice for Virtual Care, currently being consulted on with registrants and stakeholders. The draft standards emphasize that virtual care must complement in-person care, as opposed to being offered as an alternative. The standards also outline requirements and exceptions.
It is important for registrants to have their input about these draft standards, as virtual care will impact most patients, all practices, and the health system in general. In April, registrants in the Medicine Hat and Calgary areas had opportunity to connect directly with Peter Macek, President, and Greg Eberhart, Registrar, to discuss the standards through ACP Connect events.
During these events, registrants had important conversations about the role of virtual care and about the potential impact on individuals, communities, pharmacy teams, and the health system. Overall, participants agreed that virtual care must complement in-person care. Discussions focused on the important role pharmacy teams play in communities, aspects of which cannot be provided in a virtual environment.
Potential risks were also discussed. Challenges in developing meaningful and trusting relationships in a virtual environment were a topic of conversation, along with questions about delivering quality care. The need to ensure privacy and security of patient information was seen as paramount. Concern about the lack of reliable internet access in rural and remote communities was identified. More broadly, the extent to which patients would have continued access to Alberta’s broad network of community pharmacies was queried.
As these examples highlight, there are countless considerations to be made about virtual care. The constructive conversations in Medicine Hat and Calgary highlight a few key components of virtual care that should be top-of-mind for all registrants.
How can you have your say?
- Review the draft standards and provide your feedback – Registrants can provide feedback until noon MT on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. The draft standards and consultation survey are available on the ACP website.
- Join us at ACP Connect in May – This month, ACP Connect events will be held in Edmonton (May 17, 2022) and Grande Prairie (May 18, 2022). Those unable to attend in person will also be able to join via livestream on May 17. An email with links to register was sent to registrants on Wednesday, March 30, 2022. If you are interested in attending the event and did not receive the email, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.