Expanding pharmacy services could save Canada's health care system billions of dollars by 2035

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 Drug News
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OTTAWA, April 25, 2017 /CNW/ - Changes to pharmacy legislation and standards have occurred in the provinces and territories

over recent years, creating the opportunity for community pharmacists to take on an expanded role in service delivery. A new report by The Conference Board of Canada estimates that Canada-wide
implementation of just three pharmacy services could yield cumulative cost savings between $2.5 billion and $25.7 billion over the next 20 years, depending on the level of uptake of these services in the population.

"Pharmacists are an integral part of the health care delivered to many Canadians," said Louis Thériault, Vice-President, Industry Strategy and Public Policy, The Conference Board of Canada. "They could play an even greater role in ensuring the sustainability of the health care system, if we can further capitalize on their expertise as medication experts and expand the services they provide."

Highlights

  • Expanding three community pharmacy services (smoking cessation, advanced medication review and management for cardiovascular disease, and pneumococcal vaccination) could lead to cumulative savings between $2.5 billion and $25.7 billion over the next 20 years.
  • Scaling up advanced medication review and management for cardiovascular disease could generate cost savings between $1.9 billion to $19.3 billion.
  • Population health benefits of expanding these services include avoiding cases of chronic disease and premature deaths.

The report, The Value of Expanded Pharmacy Services in Canada, assesses the health and economic impact of three services that are currently delivered within a community pharmacy setting in some provinces, and which have the potential to be implemented across Canada: smoking cessation, advanced medication review and management for cardiovascular disease, and pneumococcal vaccination.

The largest economic benefits of expanding the selected community pharmacy services would result from scaling-up advanced medication review and management for cardiovascular disease (CVD), with cumulative savings valued between $1.9 billion to $19.3 billion in health care system efficiencies and increased labour productivity by 2035. Providing smoking cessation services could result in savings of $563 million to $5.6 billion and administering pneumococcal vaccination for individuals aged 65 and up could generate savings between $206 million and $761 million.

In addition to measuring the health and economic gains that could result from expanding these services, an important issue of concern for governments is whether there would be a return on investment with the wide-scale implementation of any one or more community pharmacy practice models. A large return on investment is also expected for all three community pharmacy services. The analysis shows that by 2035, for every dollar spent, the direct return could reach up to $2.30 for advanced medication review and management for CVD intervention, $9.10 for smoking cessation, and $72.00 for pneumococcal vaccination.

The population health benefits of delivering these services through community pharmacies include avoiding cases of chronic disease and premature deaths from the primary prevention of cerebrovascular disease and ischaemic heart disease, averted cases of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the secondary prevention of myocardial infarction and stroke, and hospitalized pneumonia.  

A second report, Getting the Most Out of Community Pharmacy: Recommendations for Action, addresses the policy, practice, and research challenges surrounding the expansion of pharmacy services in Canada.

Opportunities to optimize community pharmacy include enhancing evidence and understanding of impact; addressing the perceived challenges associated with legislation and regulation of the profession; creating supportive operating environments; supporting the monitoring and evaluation of pharmacy practice quality standards; and identifying and implementing appropriate funding models for expanded pharmacy practice.

"With an aging population and increasing budget constraints faced by governments, finding cost effective and scalable interventions to manage illness and offering preventative measures, such as immunization for vulnerable groups, are important strategies to help ensure the financial viability of the health care system and the strength of the Canadian economy," said Thériault.

Findings from this report will be presented by Louis Thériault at The Economic Club's Billion Dollar Idea: Expanding Pharmacy Services event today from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto.

The research for these reports was co-sponsored by The Canadian Pharmacists Association and The Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care.

Follow The Conference Board of Canada on Twitter. 

For those interested in broadcast-quality interviews for your station, network, or online site, The Conference Board of Canada has a studio capable of double-ender interviews (line fees apply), or we can send you pre-taped clips upon request.

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SOURCE Conference Board of Canada



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