Full Service Pharmacies Continue To Expand Their Role in New Brunswick

At AAPS, we’re always interested in the changing way that medical services are provided. We touched on phenomena of full service pharmacies before, and this looks like a trend that’s not going away. While the basic role of a pharmacist is to dispense prescribed and over the counter medications, as well as provide oversight of patient health by watching for conflicting medication, providing additional pharmaceutical quality control when it comes to dose levels and making sure that customers are educated about the hows and whys of the medications they take, full service pharmacies offer everything from smoking cessation and weight loss clinics to blood pressure tests.

NB Health Minister prepares to receive a flu shot at a pharmacy to promote the service. Photo source: cbc.ca

NB Health Minister prepares to receive a flu shot at a pharmacy to promote the service. Photo source: cbc.ca

The central role of pharmacies in New Brunswick

For the last four years, New Brunswick has offered flu shots at select pharmacies. With near instant service and a low or free price thanks to subsidies, the service not only negates the need for patients to make appointments, but it otherwise provides easier access to at risk groups like seniors and doubled the annual number of shot recipients.

As far as expanding into providing medical care, pharmaceutical courses already prepare graduates to understand common and uncommon ailments in order for pharmacists to perform their responsibilities, and pharmacists often serve as a bridge for small scale healthcare questions or early diagnosis of ailments. Customers already strongly value the advice of their pharmacist to help them decide what steps to take in self-care. This, combined with the strong perception of legitimacy that pharmacists have, gives a great weight on purchasing power. Not only does the pharmacy decide what to stock, and whether to encourage the choice of generics or brand name medications, but pharmacists also my directly encourage purchases.

In addition to doctors, the other medical professionals typically responsible for frontline, non-emergency care are registered nurses. However although the CRNE exam is great demonstration of a Registered Nurse’s breadth of medical knowledge, they, like doctors, are often in short supply.

Now, the New Brunswick Pharmacists Association is pushing for pharmacies to take on a stronger role treating clients, and new legislation is being prepared for consideration, extending the capacity pharmacists have to treat minor injuries. The concept is to allow for more rapid care for non-serious medical problems, taking the strain off emergency rooms, walk-in clinics and overburdened family practitioners.

Do you think this is a good trend for Pharmacies in Canada?