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07/09/2021

Someday 'telemedicine' will simply be called 'medicine'

a man smiling for the camera
Pharmacist Samier Kamar

The uptake of telemedicine and virtual care has increased significantly in the past year. Implementing telemedicine in pharmacy can improve patient outcomes and enhance pharmacy practice in significant ways. Adopting a telemedicine platform in your pharmacy strengthens the inter-professional physician-pharmacist relationship, helps improve access to care for diverse patient groups, increases professional satisfaction, and can significantly improve your bottom line. Including an integrated health data platform amplifies the benefits, allowing you to make more informed patient care decisions.

Integration of telemedicine into their pharmacy practice… why do it?

  • the idea of pharmacy-based telemedicine implies the use of technology to facilitate a medical service or care virtually within a pharmacy
  • >130% increase in patient interest of telemedicine post COVID, 70% of Canadians used virtual care for medical assistance during the pandemic, and >90% who received virtual care during the pandemic were satisfied with the experience

Problem:

  • 15% of Canadians do not have a regular HCP (NP or MD)
  • Over 55% of those Canadians that do have a primary care provider cannot access them for same or next-day appointments or on the evening or weekend

Part of Solution:

  • over 50% of Canadians see a community pharmacist up to 10x that of their family doctor
  • over 50% of Canadians visit a pharmacy at least once weekly
  • over 80% of Canadians agree that allowing pharmacists to do more can result in improved health outcomes
  • telemedicine can provide treatments for over 30 common conditions, referrals, requisitions

 

Fostering productive collaboration with physicians through telemedicine

  • great opportunity for working inter professionally with MDs
  • integrated data provides for exceptional patient care access and opportunity for intervention
  • proactive interventions can be made in real time

 

Highlighting the multifaceted benefits on pharmacy business, patient retention, and integrated care

  • from a systems perspective, reduction in unnecessary ER visits, hospitalizations, complications
  • significant cost savings from a health funding perspective
  • opportunity for increased traffic flow into pharmacy, interaction with different patient populations based on your interest, enhancing the patient experience, potential for patient profile transfers, increased prescription volume and OTC sales, professional services offered and independent patient consults (covered and non-covered services), professional satisfaction

 

Pharmacists need legislative changes to allow them to practise to full scope to maximize patient outcomes, provide both timely and convenient access to care to a diverse population set, and reduce unnecessary hospital visits. By requesting this, the idea of pharmacy-based telemedicine is still inherently relevant as it would provide a complimentary (not alternative) service to patients from a diagnostic perspective (the physician) coupled with the treatment perspective (the pharmacist), and everything in between (lab requisitions, referrals, notes, advice). The future is here, and I reckon that soon, telemedicine will simply be called medicine.

 

Samier Kamar is currently the pharmacist, manager, and owner at High St Guardian Pharmacy in Peterborough, Ontario. He is also a faculty member as the lead clinical instructor for medication therapy management courses, at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto. He is a Doctor of Pharmacy graduate from the University of Toronto. Samier has experience in nephrology, emergency, and internal medicine departments both at Toronto General Hospital and at Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) during his clinical rotations. His interest in finding innovative ways to serve his patients and community, led him to be an early adopter of the gotodoctor telemedicine platform in his pharmacy. Additionally, his pharmacy was one of the first in Ontario to gain access to Connecting Ontario through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) as part of the initial pilot program. Samier is also heavily engaged in health advocacy work with refugees and Canadian newcomers, working to ensure that they can better navigate and access health services.

 

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